formerly Ridgefield + Wilton Magazine
How Do Owls Sleep?
Every species on earth needs to rest to build up their immune systems! Almost all birds require a 12- hour sleep cycle to maintain their health and strength. When owls sleep, they are sitting in an upright position usually on a tree limb or branch. Baby owls, or owlets, sleep face down on their stomachs. When they are babies, their heads are too heavy which does not allow them to sleep upright like adults do. Adult owls are also known to take naps and can fall sleep in 11 seconds! Even though an owl is asleep, one side of their brain is still awake to keep themselves safe from predators. Some owls are nocturnal, and some are crepuscular- I know, these are big words! We only have one true nocturnal owl here and it’s called the Great Horned Owl. These owls sleep all day long and then are awake at night. The other species of owls we have are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk.
What types of animals hibernate in winter?
Believe it or not, here in CT, almost all our mammals are active throughout the winters! The amphibians and reptiles do hibernate because they are cold-blooded. This means that they cannot generate their own internal heat and use the heat from the sun to raise their body temperatures. The only true hibernators where we live are bats and woodchucks. Most people think that bears hibernate, but the truth is they don’t! Bears go into a deep sleep called torpor. During torpor their heartrate and breathing rate decrease, body temperature lowers and they do not eat. They can sleep for 100 days without food or water! Bats sleep all winter long in abandoned mines, caves, or other underground structures. Woodchucks stay in underground burrows usually in a wooded area that they dig deep enough to keep them from freezing.
What do animals eat in the winter when it snows?
I get asked this question all the time! When we look outside in the winter months, we certainly don’t see things like flowers, berries, and leaves, do we? Many animals have adaptations to help them survive in their habitats. When it’s cold in winter, our wildlife survives using one of three major strategies: hibernation, migration, and tolerance. Most mammals around here don’t hibernate but instead, their fur gets thicker, they store food in the fall and sometimes they change their diets to adapt to the shortage of food. Chipmunks, squirrels, and mice store food to eat throughout the winter, while deer and rabbits look for leaves, bark, twigs and moss to eat. Red foxes mostly eat fruit and insects but in winter, when those cannot be found, they eat rodents. Coyotes primarily eat insects, small rodents, and fruits. When rodents are hidden by snow and insects aren’t around, coyotes are mostly dependent on carrion (flesh of dead animals), particularly white-tailed deer. •