A Mild Early Winter

Today is December 5.  Generally by this time in the season we have had several snows with at least one leaving behind a good four to six inches of a wonderfully wet blanket.  This year we’ve only had two snows with one barely measuring four inches.  Our average temperature for December is 26 degrees (F) for a high and 16 for the low.  We also usually have a few days of below zero weather.  Today the temperature was 59 degrees.  It’s been a very mild, warm early winter so far.

This is what I found out in my yard.

I have several of these little exquisite violas blooming now.

I purchased this heuchera, or coral bells, several years ago. This particular one was supposed to be an annual. Apparently this plant doesn’t realize it’s December and the growing season is over.

I have several potted dianthus, or sweet william, that are still green and thriving.

So despite the flurry of Christmas preparations and the waxing of skis, the plants in my yard are ignoring the calendar and doing what they are programmed to do – grow.

Activity:  It is during months like these with abnormal weather patterns that a journal of daily temperatures and weather happenings comes in handy.  If you had enough data, you could plot your own monthly and yearly average temperatures.  A spiral notebook for recording temperatures, cloud cover, precipitation, wind speed and noteworthy observations like green and growing plants makes a fun, as well as scientific journal.

This notebook could also contain all sorts of backyard nature information.  You could record the birds that visit your yard, interesting insects, wildlife viewings, astronomical observations, cloud patterns, precipitation amounts and what’s growing or blooming in your garden.

To extend your studies and introduce children to the field of wildlife biology, families can take part in Cornell University’s Great Backyard Bird Study.  This international bird count is scheduled from February 15-18, 2013.  Beginning birders to ornithologists can take part. Visit the website for a complete explanation and directions for participating in the count.

Other bird counts that families can take part in include the Audubon Christmas bird count in December and International Migratory Bird Day in May.  Information for the Audubon count can be found here and International Migratory Bird Day here.  These are great opportunities to learn more about birds and wildlife management as well as meet wildlife professionals.


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