Parenting

Wintertime animal adventures

Our Run-at-home mom is lucky enough to have a wild and snowy backyard to explore. Here’s what her family has discovered living right outside their door

Photo by Peregrinator725 via Flickr

After several weeks of cold weather, the river behind our property is now frozen enough to explore. Isaac has been begging for a hockey rink and Gillian is just happy to be outdoors, so we’ve spent a lot of time sliding and searching and making the most of the little bit of snow we have.

One of my favourite memories as a child was skating on the frozen pond in our backyard. The look on Isaac’s face as I pretended to be a zamboni while clearing a small square of river ice was the magic that memories are made of. It just lit up! We can’t wait to have a few of his friends over for a game of mini sticks and a marshmallow and hot dog roast. I believe this is the only time in my life where I hope it will be cold for a little bit longer.

The river was slow to freeze up, leaving a few different layers of animal tracks in the ice and snow. Pretending to be archaeologists, Isaac and I brush off the snow and clean out the tracks. So far we have found tracks belonging to deer, wild turkey, squirrel, dog and a mysterious four-legged animal with a long swishy tail that drags on the ground. We guess it may be a fisher or a coyote. I’ve seen coyotes in the woods while I am trail running and there have been reports of fishers in the area.

 
Try it for yourself
Going for a walk? Try out these activties from Today’s Parent. If you have found tracks and are looking to turn your discovery into a teachable moment (I know I always am), these kindergarten animal track activities from Parenting Science hit the spot. They go beyond the basic plaster casts, which I’ve never had luck with, and include tips for urban families.
 
We usually think of animals hibernating or leaving Ontario for the winter, but have you thought about the animals that come to Southern Ontario for the winter? The Snowy Owl usually lives in the Arctic, but migrates South for the winter. Yesterday, while sledding on the river, Isaac spotted a huge Snowy Owl perched high over head in a tree. Despite all of the racket we were making, he sat and checked us out for nearly five minutes. Of all of the wildlife we have met while living here, the Snowy Owl has been my favourite. What was also great about seeing an owl in our back yard is that in the December/January issue of Chirp Magazine, we “met” an owl so Isaac was able to remember all of the interesting facts that he learned in Chirp.
Hear it for yourself
Barred owls have a unique sounding call. Check out this clip from Chirp to hear what a barred owl sounds like.

Have you  met any new animals or discovered interesting tracks in your neighbourhood?

Photo by Peregrinator725 via Flickr