It can be hard to see the signs of the natural world beyond the foreboding snowdrifts and bare tree limbs. Anna Newton, a naturalist at Tamarack Nature Center, invites visitors to look more closely at the signs animals leave behind, even when it’s freezing cold. For about 20 years, Newton has been answering questions about the natural world at Tamarack. As part of the naturalist team, she says, “We train our eyes to see things and ask questions and put together the pieces of what’s going on.” So what is going on during these chilly months?
The frosty landscape offers a perfect opportunity to spot wildlife. Foxes, deer, coyotes and rabbits leave tracks and scat in the snow to show where they’ve been, what they’re eating and where they sleep. Resident birds like chickadees, woodpeckers and goldfinches, as well as some winter visitors like siskins and crossbills, flock to the feeders. Newton recalls last year when there was “a snowy owl eruption … it was like that scene in Harry Potter, when all the owls are trying to deliver the message.”
The best way to explore winter nature is to get out on the trails with a pair of snowshoes or skis (lessons also available). Tamarack Nature Center offers rentals from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12:30–2 p.m. on Sundays. Bring the right clothes—Newton recommends dressing in layers— keep your eyes open for new discoveries, and be prepared to make memories with your kids this February.
Tamarack Nature Center
5287 Otter Lake Road
White Bear Township