Winter is a wonderful time of year to view wildlife. The woods offer clear views, and the snow records animals' comings and goings in their prints. These animals are particularly active or interesting in winter.
You'll find deer any time of year, but it's easiest in winter, especially early or late in the day. They often travel in groups, including the large-antlered bucks. Watch for their tracks in the snow. You might see melted depressions in the snow under evergreens where they bed down for the night. Seeing a group of deer bounding across a field is a sight to see!
Where to look: Secluded spots such as the East Woods and Schulenberg Prairie.
Find red-tailed hawks high up on bare-branched trees, watching for signs of small animal activity below. Seeing a hawk dive for its next meal is a beautiful sight. White breast feathers help them blend in, but there's no mistaking their loud, raspy, high-pitched calls, and their magnificent, regal forms.
Where to look: In tree tops near open fields.
Although they are nocturnal, great-horned owls sometimes call during daylight hours from their hiding spots in evergreen trees. In years when Canadian weather is particularly cold, saw whet owls fly down to seek shelter at the Arb.
Where to look: Hemlock Hill, the Conifer Collection, and anywhere there are large dense evergreens like white pine and spruce.
Chickadees and nuthatches are common denizens of the winter Arboretum. Hairy, downy, and red-bellied woodpeckers are also on the scene. If you're super lucky, you might even glimpse North America's largest woodpecker, the pileated woodpecker. This "Woody Woodpecker" bird is extremely rare, but such a treat if you do find it. See a list of birds that have been sighted here, including many "year-rounders."
Where to look: In treetops and on tree trunks everywhere.