Look for Animal Tracks in the Snow

Northern Wisconsin Animal Tracks In The Snow

Tracks are often well defined in shallow snow, so after examining your own tracks look for those made by other animals that are winter-active in your area. You may only find prints left by neighborhood dogs and cats, but check for those made by birds and, in areas that support these animals, those left by squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and deer, to mention just a few. Follow any tracks you come across, and try to piece together something about the animal’s activities. You may find evidence … [Read more...]

Make a Snow Gauge

Wisconsin Home Made Snow Gauge

Did you know that ten inches of snow are roughly equal to one inch or rain? You can measure the amount of snowfall with a homemade gauge made from any container that you can mark off in inches or centimeters. A simple but effective gauge can be made from the bottom half of a clear plastic soda bottle, marked with an indelible laundry marker on the outside. Although less reliable because of the way snow drifts, you can also measure snowfall with a yardstick. Put several gauges outdoors - - … [Read more...]

Catching Snowflakes

Snow Flakes On A Fence In Wisconsin

The Inuit language has more than 50 words for snow, from ganik (means: snow that is still falling) to pukaq (means: crusty snow) and masak (means: mushy snow). When the temperature at cloud level is at freezing or below, and the moisture-filled clouds can hold back no longer, be on the lookout for snow. If the air close to the ground is warm enough, the precipitation that started out as snow may turn to rain by the time you see it falling. (snow, however, is not frozen rain, which is … [Read more...]

Staying Warm in Winter: People, Animals & Plants

Baby Albino Deer Keeping Warm

We humans have come up with some ingenious ways of dealing with the cold, often by changing our surroundings to suit us rather than adapting to the environment as most other animals do. While we have borrowed many ideas from nature, we have gone one step farther in many cases. We insulate our homes, just like squirrels do their nests, but we also heat them artificially. Place thermometers both inside and out to see what a difference this makes. We also dress for the weather, since we have … [Read more...]

Display Nature’s Treasures

Bond Falls just across the Wisconsin state line in Michigan

Start by setting aside a spot to house and show off your nature treasures and projects. This needn’t be elaborate. While a table that can remain set up with your collections would be nice, a windowsill can easily be turned into an ever-changing exhibit space. A bulletin board is ideal for tacking up pictures and information, but the refrigerator works just as well with a good supply of strong magnets. Explore the possibilities of using pegboard or a free-standing oversized box to tape things … [Read more...]

Look for Snow Fleas

Snow Fleas

If the winter day is sunny and relatively warm, you might find a sprinkling of tiny insects at the base of trees in Northern Wisconsin. Check the south facing side where the sun’s warmth is greater. What appears to be a dense sprinkling of pepper is, in fact, a gathering of one of the few winter-active insets, the snow flea. These insects are not actually fleas, but an even more primitive insect. Look closely and you’ll see the minuscule specks jump into the air as high as three or four … [Read more...]

Watch for White-Tailed Deer

Wisconsin White-Tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are quite common in northern Wisconsin and much of the United States. They generally keep hidden in wooded areas during the day, but can be seen grazing in open fields, or munching on fallen apples in old orchards, early in the morning or at dusk. Only the underside of this deer's tail is white. Tails are raised up as a signal of alarm. Any other deer nearby will see the flash of white and be on the alert. Have you ever heard the expression "to hightail it"? Do you think … [Read more...]

Make a Snowman Bird Feeder

Northern Wisconsin Snow Men

A snowman can double as a bird feeder, laden with all sorts of goodies for our fine, feathered friends to enjoy. Try using dates for the eyes and nose, a row of raisins for the smile. Pinecones slathered with peanut butter make fine buttons, and strung cranberries can be hung like a loose belt. Popcorn garlands can be wound around a cap or hat. Don't forget to use some sturdy branches for arm, so that the birds have a place to perch. [Image: Courtesy of Mike Crowley; available for … [Read more...]

Make Snow Shoes

Homemade Snowshoes

The first snow shoes were made by North American Indians. Have you ever tried to walk through snow, only to sink knee-deep in binding drifts? Snowshoes are designed to make walking easier by dispersing your weight, so you won't fall through the snow's crust. (The Snowshoe Hare grows extra fur on its feet for this very reason). With practice, a person wearing snowshoes can travel through snow with relative ease, moving as far as 3 to 4 miles per hour. You can make your own homemade snow shoes … [Read more...]

Snow Games for Kids

Kids Playing In Snow

Flopping around in the snow is just one way to have a good time during the winter! You can also ski, skate or go sledding. But what kind of fun can you have right in your own backyard? Here are some ideas! Fox And Geese "Fox and Geese" is one game that you may know. Playing it in winter works well because the circle and paths really stand out in the snow. Make a circle large enough to run around easily. Divide it into six segments by means of paths that meet in the middle (like a pie.) One … [Read more...]