December Nature Notes

We are reaching the balance point between the years and seasons. The days grow shortest but turn to a new year soon to come.

DEC. 2

White tailed deer breeding season has just passed its peak. This means that the males will begin to shed their antlers in the next few weeks, no longer needing them to spar for a female.

DEC. 4

Bufflehead ducks are arriving from Canada to winter here. They will stay in bays, estuaries and reservoirs along the coast.

DEC. 6

Eagles can be seen in higher numbers on the lower sections of the CT River. They search out areas of ice­free water so they can find food through the winter.

DEC. 10

Garter snakes have found an underground hibernacula to brumate. These hibernacula stay warm enough to keep the snakes safe from freezing temperatures.

DEC. 13

Look for Common and Red Throated Loons in Long Island Sound.

DEC. 14

Geminids meteor shower at its peak. This meteor shower is considered to be one of the best and most active of the year.

DEC. 15

Wintering robins readily eat holly berries that stay on the trees long into the winter season. Because insects are not available in winter, robins rely mainly on berries to get through the winter. Flocks of robins will protect a food source from other bird species to ensure there is enough food for the flock.

DEC. 20

Goldenrod galls provide an important winter food source for downy woodpeckers. There are a number of insect species that cause galls in goldenrod, which are growths that house larval insects. Woodpeckers will peck a hole in the gall to retrieve the larva inside.

DEC. 21

Winter Solstice. This marks the first day of winter as well as the shortest day. After the solstice, the days will begin to get longer again.

DEC. 28

Bobwhites rely heavily on ragweed seeds which have a high energy content. They are one of the few plants that hold their seeds high enough off the ground, that they can still be reached in the snow.

DEC. 30

Christmas ferns, which are a native evergreen, can be easily spotted. Their green fronds stand out against the brown of the forest floor, and even more if there is snow on the ground. These ferns got their name because they were once harvested by the tons and bundled to make wreaths.