Although the winter woods are quiet, there’s quite a lot going on. Nature never rests.
Here are some things to look and listen for during the month:
- The deep penetrating hoots of courting great horned owls – one of the earliest birds to breed - might be heard in Huber Woods Park, Middletown.
- Chickadees, crows and blue jays that live in forests.
- The absence of squirrels as they go into dormancy during the very cold weather.
- The red fox will grow a thick fur coat during very cold weather and might be see in Thompson Park, Lincroft.
- The hairy woodpecker’s territorial drumming in the woods.
- Eagles from northwestern states or Canada – places where there is little ice-free water, a critical habitat requirement- may join our eagle pairs here in Monmouth County.
- The chickadee’s territorial call in the woods – phee-bee - might be heard in Clayton Park, Upper Freehold.
- Black-capped chickadees and tufted titmice sing repeatedly in the morning.
- Meadow voles (aka field mouse) traveling and breeding in tunnels beneath the snow.
- Wintering ducks populate the salt ponds. Bufflehead and goldeneyes feed during the day while scaup and canvasback can be spotted diving for food in shallow salt water around dawn and dusk.
- Elders, loons and mergansers might be seen from Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth, as they dive for food close to shore.
During this month:
- Fish found off the Jersey Shore during January include winter flounder, whiting, blackfish and striped bass.
- When the days first get longer; owls are establishing territory and foxes are mating.
- Aquatic invertebrates generally spend the winter quietly as eggs or cysts.
- As ice forms on lakes and ponds, it limits the amount of light and dissolved oxygen causing most aquatic life in the water to settle at the bottom.
Some cool facts about January:
- January 22 is the average start of the January thaw.
- January is the coldest month of the winter with an average temperature of 31.6° F. The ground freezes; cranberry bogs and freshwater pond usually freeze; and bays and sounds sometimes freeze.
- January is a relatively dry month due to the predominance of northwest winds that flow from the dry interior land mass of the continent.
- Snowfall in January averages about 5” along the Jersey Shore.
- Days grow longer with an additional 50 minutes of daylight by month’s end.
- The January’s full moon is called a “Wolf Moon” by some Indian Nations because wolves were more likely to forage for food near their villages and campsites during this cold, dark time of year.
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