Winter sneaks up on us quickly. One day we have a crisp, fall breeze and the next day our car windows are frozen shut. Animals, however, have been strategically preparing for the cold season that is coming upon Kentuckiana.
A key survival component for many species is hibernation, which is also known as a long-term inactivity. From mice, to snakes, to bats and numerous insects, dens or hollow logs are used to conserve body heat and energy. Red Eared Slider turtles give a great example of this slowed down lifestyle. These creatures use so little energy during the cold months that they don’t take a breath for weeks! Despite some scientists thinking these turtles go into a coma, they are conscious enough to see the icy crack of sunlight above them in water, which gives them the go that it’s time for a breath of fresh air.
Pictured is an iced-over Floyds Fork creek in Beckley Creek Park.
As animals gain weight during the fall, they use their new layers as insulation to keep their bodies warm during the more frigid climate. These extra layers not only help to provide warmth, but also energy when food is scarce. Tree squirrels, for example, spend all of September and October scavenging for food, which allows them to pack on warm warmth for the winter.
Photo by Bob Hower
Some animals prefer not to bear the cold weather and flee to warmer climates when winter comes around. Once daylight trickles away, it takes more energy for warmth and food becomes scarce. The animals then head out on their journey South. The migration of Monarch butterflies is an example of this annual trek. Monarchs living in the eastern states tend to migrate all the way to Mexico for warmth!
Photo by Jeff Mattingly
Although some animals plan to hide away during winter, there are still plenty of creatures to see out in The Parklands during the cold season. A few bald eagles have even come our way for the winter to feed on trout in the Floyds Fork creek! Aside from the bald eagle, you can spot white-tailed deer, wild turkey, geese, hawks and more. So, come out during winter and enjoy The Parklands, but remember to put on a few layers.
If you would like to explore these topics in more depth or to explore the park in a different season, join us for our Winter Break adventure day camps that will bring out the nature explorer in each of you. Camps will run December 20-22, 2017 and December 27-29, 2017. Each day we will hike a different trail as we “get out and play” in the winter Parklands landscape. Learn your way around The Parklands with our knowledgeable interpretive staff, as we guide you into some of the “special places” within The Parklands. We will investigate how plants and animals in The Parklands adapt to the winter climate while exploring our trails in this new season. To sign up, just click here!
About the Author
As the Parklands Fund Coordinator, Taylor Freimund works with the Development team to coordinate annual fundraising and development events and activities, as well as overseeing fundraising marketing and donor communications. Prior to joining The Parklands team in the summer of 2017 as a Communications Specialist, she worked as an Administrative Assistant at UPS throughout college while receiving a Bachelor of Science in Communication. She focused her marketing and strategic communication efforts on non-profit work at Fund for the Arts, The KY Humane Society and The Cincinnati Art Museum. In her free time, she enjoys drinking coffee and hanging out with her dogs.