Winter 2015 is showing its teeth. More snow and cold temperatures are presumably on their way to the metro-area later today.

Are you enjoying this winter? What are you seeing? Winter is such an interesting time for nature- plants and animals (and humans!) remain alive, but adjust to the harsher conditions.

As writer and naturalist Donna Long observes, “winter weather has the most dramatic changes…The wind picks up and trees creak and sway in the wind. The water in pond and lakes freezes. And ice crystals form on the water surface and freeze downward. The top layer of ice serves as a protective coating for the animals in the depths below.”

Trees and other plants becomeĀ dormant during the cold weather months. Everything within the plant- metabolism, energy consumption and growth- slows down.

There is much to see during winter, says Long. You just have to look in the right places.

“It is a good time to identify tree twigs and winter seed heads,” she writes.

“Some plants remain standing during winter…[they] are often tough customers like thistle, burdock, chicory and goldenrod.”

Most birds fly to warmer regions during the winter. But there are about 30 bird species -like the cardinal- which stay put in our area through the cold, dark months, says Long.

Male cardinal in winter. Cardinals are seen throughout the northeast. Credit: John Taylor

Preparing for Spring

And even as the cold reaches its depth, nature is already preparing for spring.

“In late winter, tree sap rises and the maple sugaring harvest begins,” continues Long.

“Late winter is also the time that tree buds begin to swell.” Long encourages us to “take notice of which trees buds swell first and all the other conditions that coincide. What is the air temperature? And what else is happening at the same time?”

We’d love to see what you’re seeing as we move through this winter season. Send your pics and observations to Or comment below!