Holiday Habitats

Published On January 1, 2022

Who is Going Where for the Winter?

Referencing a 2018 article from Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, Vermonters typically take one of three different approaches to winter living: As Migrators (“snowbirds”), Hibernators (“couch potatoes”) and Survivors/Thrivers (“die-hards”). Vermont wildlife also decides on what strategy best suits their winter plans.  

By December, the fall migrators have already flown away. Many of our bird and butterfly species travel to warm southern climates, sometimes, as in the case of the Common Loon, they just take a trip to the coast to hang out while the freshwater lakes are frozen. Also important to note is that Vermont is a winter destination spot for northern species such as the Snowy Owl, Rough Legged Hawk and Redpoll.  

The Vermont hibernators, which consist of many mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects have numerous tactics. We don’t have any bird species here that hibernates. The definition of a  hibernator has numerous meanings, all having to do with their method of slowing down during the cold months. Much of it depends on their ability to lower their body temperature, heart rate and metabolism. Access to food storage also varies. Some animals literally curl up for several months while others just take it down a notch and drastically slow their pace.

Then there are the heroes of winter who choose to engage in harsh winter activities by layering up, moving continuously and eating A LOT! Conserving energy is also imperative, especially when food sources are meager. Adequate shelter is just as important to maintain their health and well-being.

What are your winter plans? 

Do some animals actually freeze for the winter?

Where are their winter rentals located?  

Who keeps a permanent home year-round? 

How important is snowpack for winter survival?  

How will climate change affect everyone’s travel plans?

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