The following was originally posted in the January 2012 Nature Notes, Heartland Outdoor School’s newsletter:
The days are short and the nights are clear and star-filled. Get ready to head out with your sled to find your favorite sledding hill. If you’re not into sledding, why not make a snow fort or have a snowball battle! Humans don’t go through a period of dormancy like most of the plants and animals around Ohio. We stay active all winter and continue our lives just as we do the rest of the year. You may wonder why there aren’t as many animals out and about this time of year. The animals are less active to conserve energy and heat. They bed down in low, protected spots and huddle up together to conserve body heat. Other animals, like mice and ground squirrels, dig deep burrows underground and hibernate in them all winter. Most of the birds we see all summer have migrated south to warmer wintering grounds. They’ll be back in the spring to breed and build up their fat reserves for their next flight in the fall. Frogs actually rest underwater, but land-dwelling frogs and toads can actually freeze solid and thaw out again! Throughout time, animals have used many methods to survive Ohio’s bitter winters, but we get to enjoy the beautiful snow and eat snowflakes all winter long.