While we tend to stay home and avoid the cold, wildlife have developed their own ways to spend the winter. Many birds migrate, traveling to warmer areas with plentiful food and shelter. Some wildlife may find a safe place to enter a sleep like state that helps them conserve energy during a time when food is scarce. This process can be torpor, true hibernation, or brumation, with each process characterized by differing levels of activity and lowered metabolism. Mammals, reptiles, and even birds can change their metabolism and activity as a strategy against the cold. In other cases, animals must eat what’s available in the given season. For example, even though lush prairies aren’t available in the winter, deer can still munch on twigs and grasses. Now that you’re familiar with these three ways animals cope with the cold, unscramble the names of animals that utilize each strategy! Continue reading
Every winter, as trees lose their leaves, we get a unique view into how trees support the local ecosystem. If you look up at nearby trees this time of year, you may see non-migratory birds perching, squirrels chasing each other from branch to branch, or moss frozen in time. Have you ever wondered why there always seem to be big bunches of leaves and twigs stuck in trees? Those are actually animal nests! Despite seeming precariously perched, they’re strategically placed and carefully constructed to withstand harsh wind, rain, and even snow. At first glance, can be challenging to guess what creature its owner is. Complicating matters, animals will sometimes utilize nests made by completely different species! Birds, squirrels, and even raccoons and opossums will make nests in trees. Here’s a little information about the nests of two wildlife species common in Illinois. Continue reading
I think I speak for most people when I say that the sounds animals can make are incredible! From communication, to mating, each animal’s call is unique to their species, and in some cases, distinct even to each individual animal. As humans, we also have a huge variety of sounds that we use in our daily lives. Communicating with each other via talking, expressing danger with screams, and creating repetitive patterns as forms of entertainment in music are just a few examples of the complexity of our sounds. Now, what would happen if human sounds and animal sounds collided?
Haley Shaw, known as @SoWylie on Tiktok, is a music producer and sound designer. She was inspired by my personal favorite owl, the northern saw-whet owl, and how delicate their calls sound. She decided to combine her talent for music with the naturally occurring saw-whet call to create an amazing beat. Check out the video below!