Friday, January 17, 2014

Take Them Outside! In Winter?

by John Windau, Wildlife Communications Specialist, District Two

Tired of winter already? Short days and long nights combined with children who have been cooped up inside too long can tax even the most patient person. Looking for a way to reduce the stress? Send them outside!

OK, that should have read, “TAKE them outside.” Cold weather is no reason to put your outdoor experiences and education on hold. You cannot catch a cold simply by being outside. That is an old myth. Colds are brought on by viruses, not temperature.  

Going for an afternoon walk is very relaxing, not to mention healthy. Even a 15 minute walk can do wonders for the mind and body. When there is snow cover, spend some time solving a “snow mystery.” Look for wildlife tracks and spend a few moments following them, trying to figure who made them and what they were doing. You might be surprised at what you find. Many species of wildlife live secretly among us. Some are nocturnal while others operate covertly when we aren’t looking.

What about doing something for the birds? Here is how to make some snow art that will benefit birds too. How about making a snowman that wildlife will enjoy too? Use nuts, raisins, vegetables and fruit, in addition to bird seed, to decorate your snow friend.

Many nature centers hold programs throughout the winter months. Check out their websites for details. These are great ways to get out of the house and reconnect with nature.

Perhaps the most important element in creating an enjoyable winter outdoor experience is proper attire. Unless it is bitterly cold, most winter days can easily be enjoyed if you are properly dressed. Be sure everyone has warm boots, hats, gloves and scarves to protect faces, in addition to winter coats. By dressing in layers you will be better able to adjust your temperature. Also, remember to stay hydrated. Occasionally take breaks to warm up and there is no reason why you have to remain cooped up inside this winter.