Greenwalks: February Newsletter


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The February issue of the Greenwalks newsletter: Winter Wildlife Discovery. Exploring how wildlife survives the harsh New England winter.

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Greenwalks: February Newsletter

  1. 1. Greenwalks: SPECIAL POINTS OF INTEREST: Winter Wildlife Discovery V O L U M E 1 , I S S U E 1 F E B R U A R Y 2 0 , 2 0 1 0 Snapping turtles Just How Do They Do It? sleep all winter underwater. Northern Short- tailed shrews do not sleep. New England has some of open stream channel, pine ing under 10 pounds sur- Woodchucks wake the toughest and most cone castings on a tree vive months of conditions up pregnant. variable conditions on root, fresh shavings inside that can push the degree Wood frogs freeze earth. Yet even on the mark to –30F? solid. most frigid, windswept days signs of wildlife activ- The answer is a variety of ity may be observed. Such fascinating strategies that sign may be in the form of include chemical change, a single trackline along an congregation, morphologi- cal adaptation and a little While not everything survives, bit of gambling. the death of one often means INSIDE life for another. THIS ISSUE: Snappers! a punked log or a chicka- 2 dee flitting overhead. Chickadees! 2 Still, how do they do it? How do creatures weigh- Shrews! 2 Getting Cold Feet: Mallards Woodchucks! 3 Ringneck 4 Snakes! Wood Frogs! 5 Mallards are one of the most While the water tempera- ity to control bloodflow frequently observed water- ture of the summer is within the legs. By divert- About 6 fowl in Massachusetts. In pretty comfortable, how is ing bloodflow patterns in Greenwalks! the summer they can be it that the ducks do not get the legs, the ducks are found on most any perma- frostbiten? able to avoid frostbite nent waterbody or with a Mallards (and other water- without giving all the pre- trailing line of fuzzed duck- fowl) have the unique abil- cious body heat to the icy lings. pond.
  2. 2. PAGE 2 They What?! : The Snapping Turtle Snapping turtles are ponds within ten feet of ferent strategy takes hold. large, fast and grumpy. the shore looking for Snappers survive the win- They may reach a weight tasty fish and inverte- ter by breathing through of thirty five pounds, brates. their back ends. have a carapace length So what happens when In the winter, the turtle approaching twenty the pond freezes? “breathes” by pulsing wa- inches and have a bite Where do they go? The ter in and out of the clo- force that can snap a answer is: nowhere. aca. The turtles body broomstick as easily as takes oxygen directly from During the summer, one slices cheesecake. the water. snappers breath through Sliders in the sun. In summer, the adults their nose and lungs. In (males especially) hang the winter freeze, a dif- out on muddy bottom “Snappers survive Surviving on Fifty Cents: The Chickadee Bergmann’s is a rule that asso- ping 1/3 of an ounce– approxi- dee has the ability to drop its ciates latitude with body mass. mately the combined weight of body temperature by nearly the winter months In short, the more northward two quarters. 20*F and enter suspended hy- an animal lives, the larger For the frigid nights and cold pothermia. On the regular win- (greater body mass to surface ter days, the chickadee survives by breathing snaps, the resourceful chicka- area) it is likely to be com- by eating, eating and eating. The pared to the southern rela- slight flier will consume up to through their back tives. 60% of it’s body weight in one One of our most common day. The bird depends on eating winter inhabitants didn’t get something approximately every ends.” that memo. The black– capped three seconds. Is it any wonder chickadee weighs in at a whop- they spend so much time flitting at the bird feeder? Decaying One Day Eternal: Shrews trees provide The Northern that, if deprived food, mogeneis (NST). This is a both the in- Short-tailed they will literally starve chemically induced proc- sects and de- shrew is hungry, to death within half a ess by which the energy tritus that nearsighted and day. How do they avoid potential of resident adi- helps shrews cranked off. Oh, this? They rarely rest. pose tissue (brown fat) is survive. and poisonous. This shrew increases released as heat to ele- Shrews have such survival ability by engag- vate the body tempera- a high metabolism ing in non-shivering ther- ture. GREENWALKS:
  3. 3. VOLUME 1, ISSUE 1 PAGE 3 How Much Wood: The Woodchuck spring. Well, at least the fe- Old field habitat. Wood- chuck heaven. males do. Around February, the males emerge from hibernation. the true hibernators. The males seek out the later When the time to sleep sleeping females and mate comes, (around October) with them (while the female The woodchuck is a lumber- the very fat woodchuck en- is still deep in hibernation). ing fellow often seen sitting ters the winter den, lowers The male then leaves. The “The males seek on his haunches, chewing all breathing, drops its body females wake up pregnant dandelions. temperature to approxi- and give birth shortly there- out the later This giant squirrel is one of mately 40*F, and waits for after. sleeping females and mate with them (while the It Had to Be Snakes: The Ringneck female is still deep in hibernation). The Northern ringneck the redback. In areas of high other snakes or occasionally The male then snake is a small dark snake food abundance, they are with enter other structures leaves.” with a yellow or orange ring relatively tolerant of con- such as basements or hiber- around the neck and a specific encounters but nating animal burrows. The matching color on the belly. other wise are a solitary congregating snakes will use This gentle, harmless snake creature. the slight movements and is primarily nocturnal and Though usually found under collective body heat to sur- feeds on invertebrates and logs or loose bark, the ring- vive the winter before smaller salamanders such as neck will overwinter with emerging in May. Frogsickles: The Wood Frog The familiar barking call of what is essentially ice water. right along with the rest the woodfrog is a spring There is a reason and kinship of the winter. A form of greeting that comes after the for this. antifreeze is produced first continuous spring rain. The wood frog does not sur- by the liver and pro- Emerging from deep within vive through traditional hi- tects cellular respira- the leaf letter surrounding bernation, but uniquely sus- tion, but the frog itself the waterbodies, masked pends body functions and freezes so fully that if bandit of an amphibian seems allows the body to freeze hit upon a hard surface Milk snake perfectly comfortable in it would break apart.
  4. 4. Greenwalks is dedicated to observing and Organization understanding nature. This is accom- plished through casual, guided walks Greenwalks! through urban and suburban destinations. A $20.00 donation is encouraged.The proceeds go to support open space acqui- 7 Vinnie Way sition and management. Shrewsbury, MA 01545 Phone: (508) 792-1121 The Mission is to demonstrate that one Fax: (508) 757-0384 does not need to go deep in the woods or E-mail: far away to observe and learn about na- ture. Warning~ Participation in Greenwalks may lead to learning, an active body and increased curiosity. giveback Greenwalks FAQ: What is Greenwalks? ing local environments. to become involved in local Greenwalks is dedicated to Greenwalks seeks to debunk land protection is to speak observing and understanding those myths. with your town’s conservation nature. This is accomplished officer. S/he will be able to through casual, guided walks introduce you to the many I don’t know much about through urban and suburban ways you can contribute to the outdoors. Will this be destinations. land protection! over my head? Not at all. All walks are geared Why urban and suburban to the novice. The most im- areas? portant part is to be comfort- Most of the population is lo- able and curious. cated in an urban or suburban environment. There is a myth How can I become more that nature only exists in involved with local land “wild” places and that nature protection? is “savage”. Both of these Great question! The best way myths keep many from explor- Scarboro Pond, Greenwalk