If you think a winter season can be tough on people, imagine what itís like for wildlife thatís exposed to it 24/7.Obviously over the eons the majority of species native to the northern climate regions such as ours have evolved to survive the coldest season, but occasionally a winter comes along that can severely test even the most hardy species.
While most wildlife is well equipped to handle below freezing temperatures, finding adequate food can become a far larger challenge. Since the majority of food wildlife depends on is located at or near ground level, deep snow makes finding and accessing it difficult. And if a heavy layer of crust forms on top of the snow, it makes it doubly difficult, plus wildlife must expend far more energy to find it, which is something they can ill afford to do in winter.
Our current winter season, although cooler than normal early on, hasnít produced any major snowfall events locally, but rather small amounts almost daily of the fluffy kind that doesnít impede wildlife from traveling or feeding. However this recent thaw and rain will no doubt cause a hard crust to form atop what snow we have, and that may spell trouble for many species of wildlife.
Although we often think of deer struggling to survive a harsh winter, they often fare better than other species since as long as they can reach browsing material such as briars and living softwood twigs such as poplar and maple, they can survive until spring. As many birders know, deer will often start visiting area pedestal-style bird feeders to gobble up leftover seeds such as black oil sunflower. Theyíre also partial to several types of decorative bushes such as yews and dwarf cedars.