By Charlotte Kubb, volunteer


Whether it is in reference to nature, our computers, or even our own, sluggish tendencies, the word “hibernate” brings to mind thoughts of stillness, of sleep.  Despite the perceived drowsiness of the season, much of Mother Nature is still hard at work and you don’t have to look very far to find it!

As the colors of fall turn brittle and cold, don’t abandon your wildlife watching.  Although reptiles, amphibians, insects, and some mammals are hunkering down into their wintertime lodgings, many animals are still active and are looking for ways to pack on the needed weight to survive the plummeting temperatures that we Missourians know are coming.  Some mammals like raccoons undergo “torpor”, meaning that they experience a decrease in activity but will occasionally rouse from their dens to find food.  Weasels, mice, deer, and opossums are among the more active, four-legged friends you’ll spy.  Several species of songbirds will also find solace in your backyard, especially near wooded areas.

One way to discover just who might be foraging and fluttering in your yard is to peek at the tracks left behind.  Wintertime restricts forage availability for animals, so opportunistic mouths are hunting for free meals. We do not advise hand-feeding wildlife because it can encourage those animals to approach people and creates dangerous situations, but we do recommend keeping your bird feeders full with some critter favorites such as corn, thistle, sunflower seeds, and suet – a yummy, calorie-rich combination of nuts, berries, seeds, and lard.  When feeding, birds will kick much of this onto the ground and you can be certain that other animals will gratefully munch on those scattered leftovers.

Hey kids, join us for “A Wild Winter” holiday camp on December 29 or December 30, 2010. Each one day camp will focus on winter time adaptations for wildlife.  For more information call 6363-394-1880 or visit our website, www.mowildlife.org.