The weather outside is frightful . . . while we thankfully have not had as much snow as the Northeast, it’s been colder than normal here in the sunny South. Snowbound, I had the perfect excuse to stay indoors and read a couple of weeks ago. This book provided *interesting reading while I was tucked away, cozy indoors, watching the birds and wondering how nature adapts to the frigid temperatures and winter landscape.
(*interesting reading for those defined as a bit of a Discovery Channel or Animal Planet geek :-)
“From flying hot-blooded squirrels and diminutive kinglets to sleeping black bears and torpid turtles to frozen insects and frogs, the animal kingdom relies on staggering evolutionary innovations to survive winter. Unlike their human counterparts, who alter the environment to accommodate physical limitations, most animals are adapted to an amazing range of conditions. In Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival, biologist, illustrator, and award-winning author Bernd Heinrich explores his local woods, where he delights in the seemingly infinite feats of animal inventiveness he discovers there.”
“Because winter drastically affects the most elemental component of all life — water — radical changes in a creature’s physiology and behavior must take place to match the demands of the environment. Some creatures survive by developing antifreeze; others must remain in constant motion to maintain their high body temperatures. Even if animals can avoid freezing to death, they must still manage to find food in a time of scarcity, or store it from a time of plenty.”
“Beautifully illustrated throughout with the author’s delicate drawings and infused by his inexhaustible enchantment with nature, Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival awakens the wonders and mysteries by which nature sustains herself through winter’s harsh, cruel exigencies.”
I set a Winter World-inspired table with pine cones, lichen covered branches, moss & a few nuts for foraging squirrels. . . on a landscape made of a jute runner layered on a snowy white quilt.
“Perhaps none depends on snow more than the snowshoe hare. The size of this hare’s tracks are out of proportion to the animal’s size. As a result of its low foot-loading, the hare can walk, hop and run very near the top of the fluffiest snow. As a consequence, the more that snow accumulates, throughout the winter, the more easily the hare can reach its food, the fresh twigs of small trees and brush.”
Woodland botanicals, snowy white orbs, and branches fill my lanterns on the table. . .
Rock Salt is sprinkled to mimic an icy coating, rather than to melt the snow on the sidewalk :-)
I was surprised to learn that Crossbills often lay their eggs in winter, so they are able to raise their young when the seeds of spruce or pine cones are most plentiful.
Heinrich is a scientist with a talent for relating his love for nature, his appetite for discovery, and his humorous insights in a fashion that is enjoyable for the reader.
My appetite led me to Pine Cone Cheese for Food for Thought, you can find a recipe here.
Winter can be difficult for birds when the days are short and nights are often cold and long. The natural food supply has been consumed or is hidden by snow. Water can be hard to find, and food needed to provide the energy to keep birds warm might be scarce.
Food for Thought also led me to make pine cone bird treats for our feathered friends. . . snowy day fun for kids if you have the materials on hand, with a recipe found here.