This Month at Shaw Nature Reserve

Winter Vistas

What’s in bloom
Enjoy panoramic, leaf-free views this January at Shaw Nature Reserve. Even though it is chilly, a brisk hike can be a rewarding and warming activity, especially while looking for tracks in the snow and practicing winter tree identification skills. While most trees have lost their foliage some retain their leaves, including some oak (Quercus), beech (Fagus) and hornbeam (Carpinus) species. This unique retention of leaves through winter is called marcescence. Eventually the leaves will fall off just before the new leaves emerge.

Featured trail
The Whitmire Wildflower Garden is a great place to hike in the winter. There are several locations to see witch hazel, including beside the Carriage House and near the gazebo pond. We have labeled one of each species of tree in the garden so you can practice your tree identification. There are several evergreens to see such as Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), American holly (Ilex opaca), Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), and shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata). The shortleaf pine and Eastern white pine are directly across the trail from each other in the upper woodland garden of the wildflower garden. One way to tell these species apart is by the amount of needles they have bundled together. Eastern white pine has needles in bundles of five and shortleaf pine has needles in bundles of two or three.

Did you know?
Trees provide food and shelter for wildlife during the winter months and they can provide us with delicious maple syrup! Many people are familiar with maple syrup, but did you know you can also make syrup from the sap of other trees, like birch or even oak? Warm days following below-freezing temperatures at night get the sap flowing. If we are lucky enough to have the right weather, school groups will get the chance to help make maple syrup here at the Nature Reserve. School groups can participate in a Maple Syrup Making program. Adults, you can learn to make maple syrup, too! Join us for the Tips and Tricks to Backyard Maple Syrup program.

Wildlife
As you hike near the edge of the woodlands, make sure to look up and you might glimpse a red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) perched on a limb. Winter is also breeding season for barred owls (Strix varia) and great horned owls (Bubo virginianus).

You can upload photos of winter wildlife or scenery to our Facebook page or use #SNRWinter.

Update
Remember that Shaw Nature Reserve closes at 5 p.m. Before visiting, make sure to check the weather and call our Visitor Center ahead of time at (314) 577-9555 to learn about road closures due to ice and snow.