Posts Tagged ‘hibernation’

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Again?

Punxsutawney Phil

I watched the 1993 film Groundhog Day featuring Bill Murray at least a dozen times. Or maybe it just felt that way. Just as February 2 was on a nonstop loop in the film, this year’s iteration of Groundhog Day is likely to feel roughly the same as all the previous ones. I think it’s a good metaphor for this time of year, as we stumble out each morning in the semi-dark to defrost the car, not even sure what day of the week it is. We probably don’t have the energy for an exciting holiday right now.

The notion that sunshine on the second day in February portends a late spring is an idea that began in ancient Europe. The date marks the pagan festival of Imbolc , halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. In the Celtic world, Imbolc was dedicated to the goddess Brigid (Brigit), the traditional patroness of healing, poetry, hearth and home, agriculture and fertility. She was also a fierce warrior who killed adversaries like a champ. As Christianity spread, Imbolc was supplanted by Candlemas Day , but both traditions embrace the “sunnyequals more winter, and cloudy means spring” theme. » Continue Reading.


Friday, December 30, 2022

Sleeping the Winter Away? 

North County winters pose a challenge to animals who choose to stay here, rather than migrate to warmer climates. Food is scarce. Many survive by sleeping. Well… not sleeping exactly. Hibernating.

Hibernation is a life-saving adaptation. Essentially, it’s the ability to reduce one’s energy needs when resources run low or become unavailable. Many warm-blooded animals would die of starvation if it wasn’t for their ability to hibernate.

Very Few Animals are ‘True’ Hibernators 

    The term hibernation is commonly applied to all types of winter dormancy. But ‘true’ hibernators enter hibernation at the same time every year, regardless of the outside temperature or availability of food. During ‘true’ hibernation, body temperature is lowered to slightly above that of the temperature in the animal’s lair. Respiration is reduced to just a few breaths per minute. Heartbeat becomes barely distinguishable.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, January 15, 2021

Surviving The Freeze: Animals in Winter

Winter in the mountains is marked by abundant snowfall.  As mountain residents we are hard wired for winter preparation.  When the trees have shed most of their leaves and become an array of barren branches, we like the squirrels are diligently preparing for a long, cold winter.  Barbeque grills and lawn furniture get tucked away, wood piles are stacked wide and tall, fuel tanks filled, snow blowers fueled up and snow shovels are conveniently propped near the entrance of homes.

We are prepared and equipped for nature’s cold, white glitter we call snow.  With the average daily winter temperature being approximately sixteen degrees, double stuffed jackets, insulated boots and hat & mittens become the general attire.  We have our own form of hibernation as we load our cupboards with yummy snacks and settle in for a Netflix marathon.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, April 10, 2020

Rising from the freeze, embracing signs of spring

Spring is a time when flowers bloom and trees begin to grow. The days grow longer and the temperatures rise above 40 degrees. For the people who have weathered the winter, the melting of ice and thawing of the ground is greatly anticipated.  During this period, creatures who have adapted to the freezing temperatures through miraculous transformations in bodily functions, now rise to an altered green landscape. 

Many people have not witnessed these seasonal transformations, but as mountain dwellers in close proximity to these creatures, a glimpse becomes possible. Making it to spring is no small feat for animals that hibernate.  To humans, hibernation may appear restful but for the animals who hibernate, this state can be arduous. Some of these animals expend huge bursts of energy so their body temperatures don’t dip too low and do it with little to no food and water. 

» Continue Reading.



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