Winter brings its share of amazing discoveries. Use this guide to know what you’ll find when you head out into the wild.
A wild picnic took place on this stream bank. River otters, raccoons, or muskrats pried open clams and mussels to munch on the meat inside. Then they tossed the empty shells on the bank.
It takes 11 to 14 months for bullfrog tadpoles to turn into frogs. That means the chubby polliwogs pass winter underwater. If you’re lucky, you might spot them swimming lazily under the ice.
Never, ever walk on an icy stream unless an adult says it’s OK. Ice that isn’t at least 4 inches thick isn’t safe to walk on. Look Most mammals are nocturnal, so you may not see many in the flesh and fur. But footprints in the snow offer evidence of their nightly wanderings. Can you find the tracks in this photo?
Pack a small trash bag whenever you head outside. If you find litter, pick it up!
Cardinals, chickadees, and tufted titmice begin singing in February to attract mates (the early bird gets the girl) and to stake claims on patches of habitat. To learn what these early spring singers sound like, fly over to allaboutbirds.org.
Run your hand over a velvety soft patch of moss. Mosses are tiny plants that don’t produce flowers or seeds. After a natural disaster, such as a forest fire or tornado, they are often the first plants to grow back.
If you spot a tree that seems as if it’s been run through a ginormous pencil sharpener, you’re likely looking at the handiwork of a beaver. Missouri’s largest rodent uses its sharp front teeth to cut down trees. Beavers use trees for food and to build dens and dams. During autumn, a beaver will cut down, on average, a tree every other night.
A beaver can gnaw down a 5-inch-wide willow tree in under three minutes.
Nichole LeClair Terrill