Natural Events


  • Animals have many adaptations to survive the winter.  Some, like weasels and snow shoe hares, have white fur to act as camouflage in the snow.  Ruffed grouse bury into deep snow to stay warm.
  • “False hibernators” like skunks, raccoons, and black bears enter into a shallow winter sleep.  They maintain a nearly normal body temperature, but a much reduced metabolism.
  • Our winter resident songbirds adapt by producing up to 50% more feathers.  By fluffing up their feathers, warm air is trapped and helps to keep them warm.  
  • During the last week of December, enjoy the winter solstice.  This cyclical natural event marks the lengthening of the days.  


  • Bald eagles (resident pairs and visitors from up north) congregate near open water.  Visit lakes, rivers, and reservoirs to see them feeding on fish and carrion (carcasses).
  • Pennsylvania is home to more than 8,000 black bears.  The females mate every other year.  During the second week of January, they give birth to 2-5 cubs in their winter dens.
  • Winter is not completely devoid of insect life.  Snow fleas are found in large colonies near the bases of tree trunks and stonefly nymphs live in icy streams.
  • The great horned owl begins nesting in late January.  Known as "flying tigers", these large owls prefer deciduous forests with hemlocks and white pines.


  • Some mammals, like woodchucks and bats, experience true hibernation. Their body temperature drops to near freezing and their heartbeat slows way down, saving vital energy reserves.
  • Many mammals mate in the cold of winter.  Skunks, raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, red foxes, and gray foxes all synchronize the birth of their young with the fresh, available foods of spring.
  • Longer hours of sunlight trigger the winter resident songbirds.  Males begin singing to attract females and stake out their territories. Listen for black-capped chickadees, cardinals, mockingbirds, and finches. 
  • During the last week in February, the first and slinkiest flower of the spring breaks through the frozen ground. Skunk cabbage melts its way up through the ice and snow by producing its own heat (up to 72º F).

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PEEC Events

View our Calendar Page to see programs available at PEEC during the winter season.

Additional information