Winter: A season of cozy gatherings and LOTS of–you guessed it–eating!

January 2, 2018

Happy winter, friends! We hope everyone has enjoyed their holiday parties and time with family; after all, quality time with loved ones is how we celebrate regardless of what occasion we gather for. While their motives might be different from ours, many animals also gather together and prepare food this time of year. Surviving winter can be a challenge for our native critters but with the right adaptations and behaviors, they can make it through ’til spring.

 

Photo by Mia McPherson. Accessible at http://www.onthewingphotography.com/wings/2011/10/15/close-encounter-of-the-snake-kind/

During the summer months, it is not a rare sight to see a rattlesnake sunbathing on a trail here in the Wasatch. Because rattlesnakes are cold-blooded, or ectothermic, meaning they cannot produce their own body heat, they must use their environment to regulate their temperature. This becomes very difficult in the winter and in order to conserve energy, rattlesnakes hibernate through the cold months, slowing their metabolism to nearly a stand-still. During September as the weather begins to cool, rattlesnakes seek out sheltered dens and often occupy these spaces communally with other rattlesnakes and even snakes of different species.

 

Photo by Scott Rashid, IBC1047855. Accessible at hbw.com/ibc/1047855

In true holiday fashion, the Clark’s Nutcracker spends much of its time preparing and gathering a huge feast which it will live off of through the winter. These beautiful birds prefer conifer seeds and begin to collect and store them during the fall when the seeds become available. The more seeds they are able to store, the more likely they will survive and be able to raise young the following year.

 

 

To learn more about our furry and feathered neighbors be sure to join us for our Tour with a Ranger and Snowshoe with a Naturalist programs this winter! The tours are officially up and running and we can’t wait to share stories and explore our winter wilderness with you. Check our events calendar for the schedule!

References:

Stettler, Brent. “Western Rattlesnake.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Wildlife Notebook Series No. 22. http://digitallibrary.utah.gov/awweb/main.jsp?flag=browse&smd=1&awdid=10. Accessed 28 Dec. 2017.

“Great Basin Rattlesnake.” National Park Service, 24 Feb. 2015. https://www.nps.gov/brca/learn/nature/gbrattlesnake.htm. Accessed 28 Dec. 2017.

McMurray, Nancy E. “Nucifraga columbiana.” Fire Effects Information System. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. 2008. https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/animals/bird/nuco/all.html. Accessed 28 Dec. 2017.

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