Sheldrake Blog

Learn from Sheldrake's naturalists and staff about the natural resources that surround us everyday, and how we can benefit from immersing ourselves in the environment around us.

What Happens in Winter at Sheldrake?

January 15, 2024

If you think winter is for dormancy and hibernation, think again! There’s much to see and do in the forest year-round.

Look up: In the absence of leaves, nests are visible. Who’s nest is that? What clues are there?

Look on that bush: Is that a leaf or an insect egg sac?






Look down: Whose tracks are those? What can we learn about the shape and position of those footprints in the mud or snow? Whose scat is that? Whose feather?

Look at the pond: There might be ducks, geese, herons, swans–even a muskrat!

Humans turn up the thermostat and wear warm clothes. What strategies do other animals use for surviving the winter? Which birds migrate? Which overwinter? Which animals hibernate? Who’s well-camouflaged? Let’s investigate what food is available—maybe berries and nuts—and also fill our Sheldrake bird feeders for blue jays, cardinals, and other birds that stick around. Then, we might play the bird migration game because it’s fun, educational, and a great way to warm up!

It’s too cold, you say? A naturalist would tell you, “There’s no such thing as bad weather; only poor clothing choices.” Our properly clad students are too busy discovering nature’s wonders to be cold. Plus, our indoor classroom is available to provide respite from the elements when needed.

As early as January, we can see both snowdrops and skunk cabbage starting to bloom. As the winter progresses towards spring, we’ll notice lots more budding, as well as the return of migrating birds. Though we’ll “lose” an hour when we change the clocks in March, the longer daylight and increased temperatures (we hope!) will add warmth and excitement to the segueing seasons.

Our naturalists are all bundled up and ready to share the joy of being outside, in nature, in all seasons–including the winter!

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