Grab your sunglasses! With several new coats of snow gracing campus this week, the Arb is looking whiter and brighter than ever. While it may seem like the fall colors of the prairie and foliage are long gone, and it will be a while before the vibrant spring colors of wildflowers and greenery return to our sights, all hope is not lost for a pop of color in the Arb amongst the snow cover.
Where will you find this color? If you look closely, some of the birds that stick around for Minnesota winters might catch your eye. Take the northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), for example. Male cardinals are characterized by their brilliant red color, making them fairly easy to spot, especially against a snowy backdrop. The female is less conspicuous, with a more beige-reddish color. The northern cardinal can be found in the southern half of Minnesota and does not migrate, meaning you can see it year-round.
Another bird you may be able to spot during the winter is a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). These birds are much larger than cardinals, but ironically, they may not be as easy to spot. While not as brightly colored as cardinals, they do have some distinctive features that could make them identifiable in the winter. As suggested by its name, the red-tailed hawk has a reddish-brownish tail that is especially easy to spot from below. From below, red-tailed hawks are hard to miss, as they float above the trees flaunting their large wingspan.
So, whether you are skiing, snowshoeing or just taking a relaxing winter walk in the Arb, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for a pop of color!