A Canadian landscape can seem empty in winter, with only the wind to break the chilly silence. Standing on the frozen earth, you might look around and decide all the wildlife has fled south or dug in underground until spring.
But when you stop to look, you’ll see there are many creatures (besides yourself!) successfully navigating wintertime in Canada.
From bugs to frogs, turtles to finches, moose to moths, wildlife respond to seasonal shifts in temperature, light and food availability as autumn fades. Some migrate, some hibernate, some rest, and others eat as much as they can in preparation for leaner times. Amazingly, bears run a “power-eating marathon” as winter approaches that can include up to 30,000 calories in berries and nuts in a single day.
Many creatures take refuge from the winter wind in tall, dense shrubs and grasses. Some aquatic species, such as frogs, salamanders and turtles, disappear into the relatively warm mud while ice or snow gathers above them. The freshwater fish begin to sink deeper and their movements slow down to conserve energy.
Winter across much of the country can be bitterly cold and it’s hard to imagine how animals survive the long months. It’s true that many birds—ducks, geese, swallows, blackbirds, songbirds and shorebirds—migrate south, but many wildlife species stay behind using clever strategies to cope with cold, ice and snow.
Some insects, such as dragonflies and monarch butterflies, migrate to warmer climates but others simply play out their life cycle. Wasps, for example, leave their nest to forage for food and ultimately die—leaving only some fertile females to hibernate and emerge in spring to nest again.
Read about our proactive approach to winter conservation work
Web-footed and fancy free—how ducks navigate frigid ice and snow underfoot
Hibernation is a survival strategy. Lighter hibernators retreat during severe winter weather will leave home for nourishment on warmer days.
Mitigation translocation has become increasingly more common in B.C. since the Sea to Sky project.