Fall & Winter on Our Preserves

Article & Photos by Kristy Morley, Senior Naturalist


The changing of the seasons brings great changes to our trails and preserves. Fall and winter are a great time to get outside and look for a variety of things visible at that time. Here are some of the things you might see on our trails and preserves. 

A ladybeetle aggregation – Large groups of ladybeetles form in the fall in preparation for winter hibernation. Having spent the summer eating aphids, these insects are looking for a protected spot under loose bark or in leaf litter to survive the winter. 

Baby snapping turtle – Eggs that were laid over the summer hatch in early fall. These tiny turtles make their way to the nearest body of water and can sometimes be seen crossing roads or trails. 

Pokeweed – Just one example of a variety of native plants that produce fall berries, including viburnum, crabapples, and poison ivy. These berries fuel the migration of numerous bird species.  

Bird nests – Winter can be a great time to view bird nests, like this Baltimore Oriole nest. 

Mouse nest – Mice use milkweed or cattail fluff to make a secure winter home. Look for these billowy nests in the dense branches of evergreens or even on top of old bird nests. 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – This winter visitor is most easily identified by the rows of small holes it drills in trees. These holes cause the tree to leak sap, which the bird eats using it’s specialized brush-tipped tongue.