'Arb Notes' is a weekly feature written by the Cowling Arboretum student naturalists. For more information, or with specific questions, please contact Arb Manager Nancy Braker or any of the naturalists (names below).
This weekend was a good taste of how cold it can get here in Minnesota, with temperatures dipping into the negative teens. While this warrants caution in your Arb treks, the new dusting of snow from this past weekend adds a whole new level of fun to Arb adventures! If you see something interesting or exciting, please let us know!
-There are a multitude of activities that the Arb trails are used for in the winter; skiing, snowshoeing, running, walking. Skis (boots and poles) and snowshoes can be checked out from the Rec Center, conditions permitting. While we encourage all of these activities we request that Arb-goers use proper trail etiquette. If walking, running, or snowshoeing on a groomed trail, please stay single file to the sides of the trails, and avoid walking in the ski tracks. The Arb is groomed after each snowfall and on intervals between, but walking in the middle of the trail makes the surface uneven and heavily compacted making skiing difficult. Snowshoers are not restricted to the trails (a great opportunity to explore places you haven’t seen before!).
- With the new snow this week, there are plenty of fresh tracks to check out. Some neat places to check out are: down by Spring Creek, near the Cannon, and around Best Woods. There are also plenty of birds that over-winter here. In the last week, there have been sightings of an adult and juvenile Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) near the Cannon and a juvenile Red Tail Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). Hairy (Picoides villosus) and Downy (Picoides pubescens) Woodpeckers are frequently seen and can be easily mistaken for each other. Hairys are the larger of the two (H for “huge”) with a longer beak about the same length as its head, while Downys are smaller (“diminutive”) with a short beak (about half the length of its head). Good pictures of these birds can be seen in The Sibley Guide to Birds available in the Library.
-For those avid birders, there is a yahoogroups listserve for bird sightings in Rice County.
You can join the listserve by going to www.yahoogroups.com, and searching on "Rice County Birds". You then join yahoogroups (if you are not already a member) and send an email to the moderator asking to be added to the group.
- Your Student Naturalists are Amy Alstad ’09, Jeremy Hayward ’09, Lindsey Neitmann ’09, David Smith ’09 (off-campus), Hannah Specht ’09, John Vigeland ’09, and Mira Alecci ’11. Please contact any of us (or Arb Director, Nancy Braker) with questions or suggestions!