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Wildlife and Snow

Jan 10, 2021

Light snow dusts the landscape like sprinklings of powdered sugar. A few inches of snow hold the delightful promise of a snowman. Heavy snowfalls weigh down branches and wires, and blunt the familiar outlines of objects in the neighborhood and countryside. People generally enjoy snow, but how does wildlife fare when the snow falls?

The amount of snow fall determines how wildlife survive and thrive in the winter. One inch of snow hinders ground-feeding birds such as quail from finding food, but efficiently hides a meadow mouse from the watchful eye of a hungry hawk.

A few inches of snow shields small animals from blustery cold winds and insulates the land, protecting insects and plants.

A half foot of snow forces a fox to leap and bound, yet lifts a rabbit, bringing it closer to its food supply of winter buds on saplings.

Ruffed grouse take advantage of deep powdery snows by diving into drifts at night and reaping the benefits of an insulated snow blanket, while a hungry deer fights deep snow drifts with each and every step.

Playful otters enjoy a good snow by sliding down snowy banks on their bellies, but wildlife such as songbirds struggle in the snow and cold of winter. Snow affects wildlife in different ways.

Discover Snow Geese

  • Snow geese move in flocks of thousands with a "the more the merrier approach" and loud honking.
  • Snow geese are the noisiest waterfowl. They will gather on large, open waters and fuel up in corn and other crop fields. Their feeding frenzy goes on for hours.
  • Since they have adapted so well to foraging for leftover agricultural grains, snow geese populations have soared to historically high levels and threaten arctic nesting range habitat.
  • Snow geese come in two color varieties, or morphs, white and blue. The blue morph is more toned toward gray and are vastly outnumbered by the white morph.
  • Snow geese are also known for their black wing tips which can be seen in flight as they spiral down to earth and take off again.

More on Snow Geese

MO DOC-2020-DNN Feb Wk 2 Winter Wildlife and Snow-MDOC2002-LF02.mp3

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Hear how snow affects wildlife in the winter

eastern_bluebird.jpg

Photo of an Eastern Bluebird in the snow
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird eats berry while trying to stay warm after snow storm in December of 2006 in Jefferson City

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