Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Winter Coming

Nature Watch
November 2008

By Susan Benson,
CNHM Director of Education

The Ojibwe word for November is “guckudinogizis,” meaning “the month when it freezes.” By the middle of November, most of our northern lakes usually have ice (harder to believe this is likely this year,) and we’ll likely also experience our first bona fide snow storm. Since it’s in the forecast as I write this article, it could happen by the time it is published. The bike rides may be at an end for this season, although phonological observations will continue! Other November observations include:

Most insects and spiders are now hibernating. The honeybee is one of the only terrestrial insects that maintains its body temperature through the winter. Thousands of honeybees
cluster together in a ball to conserve heat. The bees achieve an average temperature of 64 degrees F in the center of the ball and 50 degrees F at the perimeter.

Female black bears will begin their long winter sleep as early as October 1. However, male black bears are rarely in their winter sleep until early December. Why? Male black
bears often do not sleep in dens, but actually sleep right on the ground or under downed trees. Because they are above ground, male black bears are easily aroused during hunting season.

By Nov. 29, we’ll be seeing just nine hours of daylight. Don’t despair. Winter stars take center stage in November’s night sky, so enjoy the night sky more often.

Do you make a mental or written note each year when the lake first freezes? Do you scan the skies for migrating birds each spring and fall? Do you record the first snowfall more than one inch? Share your observations with the Cable Natural History Museum by emailing us at, and we’ll include them in our phenology database. Please look at the interesting data below. And enjoy making your own observations!

First snowfall more than 1”
10/25/01 CABLE
11/12/00 CABLE
12/19/98 WASHBURN
11/16/98 MARENGO
11/10/98 DELTA
11/10/99 CABLE
10/22/99 ASHLAND
10/6/00 HAYWARD
11/7/00 CABLE
10/06/01 CABLE
10/25/01 HAYWARD
10/12/02 CABLE
9/29/03 CABLE

Nature Watch is brought to you by the Cable Natural History Museum. For 40 years, the Museum has served as a guide and mentor to generations of visitors and residents interested in learning to better appreciate and care for the extraordinary natural resources of the region. The Museum invites you to visit its facility in Cable at 13470 County Highway M or on the web at to learn more about exhibits and programs.

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