January 13, 2010
- Snow Loving Animals
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
- Hudson Valley - Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center
- Capital District - Five Rivers Environmental Education Center and Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center
- Adirondacks - Adirondack Park Agency Visitors Interpretive Centers at Newcomb and Paul Smiths
- Central New York - Rogers Environmental Education Center
- Western New York - Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center
Snow Loving Animals
During the dead of winter, people keep their houses warm, cook comforting food and bundle up when they have to head outside. What about the animals that live in New York State all year long? How do they survive the snow and bitter cold?
Winter Coats-Many animals like deer grow longer, thicker coats during the winter. A white-tailed deer's winter fur is thick. The deer's hollow hairs trap air inside, which helps insulate its body from the cold. Snowshoe hares have three layers of fur. The top layer turns white in the winter to help hide them in the snow. Squirrels use their bushy tails as blankets to cover themselves when they sleep.
Food-It is hard for animals to find food in the winter. Deer feed on leaves, buds, young bark and twigs. They also dig through snow to find acorns. They eat a lot during the summer and fall to put on an extra layer of fat that will help keep them warm. Squirrels, mice and beavers gather extra food in the fall and store it to eat throughout the winter. Some animals have to change their diet completely during the winter. The red fox eats fruits and insects in the warm months but must live on a diet of rodents during the winter. Coyotes use their hearing to find animals like mice running in tunnels beneath the snow. They also eat dead animals they find.
Shelter-Animals find shelter in holes in trees or logs, under rocks or leaves or underground. Mice build tunnels through the snow. Squirrels often keep warm by staying secure in their tree nests, where they are protected from wind and cold. Deer bed down in heavy thickets but have to keep moving to areas where food is available. In severe cold, they do not move much at all in order to save energy.
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Insect Hide and Seek
Summertime is filled with insects buzzing and flying around. But where do insects go when the cold weather arrives? A few remain active during the winter; for example, honeybees are "semi-active" in hollow trees. They keep warm through the body heat of the other bees in the hive-and they eat lots of honey.
Ants and termites can live through our cold winters by huddling together in underground colonies built below where the ground freezes. They eat food they stored during the warmer months.
See if you can find any other insects that are active during the winter. Use a flashlight, and look into crevices in bark, under dead logs and piles of leaves, around windows, in attics, basements, garages or anyplace else where an insect may find shelter. Without disturbing what you find, look for active and hibernating adult insects or eggs.
Circle of Life
Animals and birds need several things in order to survive: food, water, shelter and space. These things combined are called a habitat, and any changes to an animal's habitat can have a negative effect. Try this game to learn about the importance of all four parts of a habitat. You will need at least six friends or family members to play this game.
The first step is to write down on index cards some change to the environment. For example: lots of snow-animals can't move easily to find food; or a farmer sells his field for development, and no shelter, space or food is left. Brainstorm some additional ideas for habitat changes before you start the game. They may involve pollution, disease, predators or climate changes.
One player will be a winter animal, and one will be the leader. Additional players are food, water, shelter or space. Players will stand in a circle holding hands, representing the animal's habitat. The leader remains outside the circle and selects a habitat change from the index cards. As the change is called out, each player must figure out if they are affected and leave the circle. Players return to the circle for the next habitat change. Which changes to the environment caused the most players to leave the circle and had the biggest effect on the animal?
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Saturday, January 16 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Do you have the knowledge it takes to survive in the wilderness? Learn about survival techniques, animal tracking and other outdoor skills. Recommended for ages seven and older. Call 845-831-8780, ext. 300 to register. Cost: $20.00 per person-cash or check. Participants should bring a bag lunch and beverage.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree?
Saturday, January 23 at 2:00 PM
Put on your snowshoes and warm thinking caps as we learn to identify native tree species by their unique bark. Please dress appropriately for the weather. If you don't have your own snowshoes, you may borrow a pair from Stony Kill.
Canids of New York
Saturday, January 16 at 10:00 AM
Learn about coyotes and foxes-the wild dogs of New York State-and the predators and prey of these carnivores during this indoor/outdoor program on the habitat.
Snowshoeing for Girl Scouts
Saturday, January 16 at 2:00 PM
Enjoy this beautiful season by discovering animal tracks and-if weather permits-learning to snowshoe. We will discuss basic snowshoeing techniques and then head out on the trail to look for signs of winter animal activity. A fee for this event applies. Call 518-475-0291 by January 12 to register your troop.
Winter Tree ID
Saturday, January 23 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
Learn to identify trees without the help of their leaves! Join us for an introduction to the clues and cues of twigs and bark that can help us recognize a diversity of trees in winter. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free. Call 518-456-0655 to register.
Adirondack Park Agency Newcomb Visitors Center
Tracks Do Tell Tales Trail Walk
Saturday, January 16 at 1:30 PM
Guest Naturalist Peter O'Shea will lead a snowshoe walk on one of the trails and share information about the world of animal tracks and the Adirondack winter landscape. Snowshoes will be available. Call 518-582-2000 to register.
Adirondack Park Agency Paul Smiths Visitors Center
Tracking on the Trails
Saturday, January 23 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
The winter woods provide a wonderful canvas for revealing the stories in the snow. Join the fun as follow tracks on the trails. Call 518-327-3000 to register.
Saturday, January 16 at 10:00 AM
Skins, skulls and scat, oh my! This is a great opportunity to learn about mammals that may appear in your backyard or identify that strange scat pile you came across on a hike. Call 607-674-4017 to register.
Snowshoe Chenango Canal
Saturday, January 23 from 9:00 AM to Noon
We will observe nature in winter and hunt for the tracks and traces of wildlife. This hike is open to everyone and will be a winter adventure! Snowshoes provided. Call 607-674-4017 to register.
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Winter Adaptation Walk
Saturday, January 16 at 10:30 AM
Have you ever wondered how local wildlife is able to survive our harsh winters? Their secrets will be revealed on this guided walk.
Saturday, January 23 at 10:30 AM
Bring the family out for a fun walk on our snowy trails as we look for signs of wildlife. Snowshoe rental $2.00/pair; free for FORNP members.