Families, don't let the barren trees and chilly weather keep you inside! Make the most of the short daylight hours, bundle up and hit the trails. See the sun glitter through the snow-lined branches and observe the birds and squirrels in peaceful, bug-free silence. This might not be the way people are used to enjoying the park, the plants and animals also adapt to the colder temperatures and lack of food through hibernation, migration and other strategies. Snowshoe rabbits even turn white to camouflage in the snow.
Most of the park's trees are deciduous, which means they shed their leaves, which then decay and become hummus on the forest floor. The trees themselves stand dormant as they endure frigid temperatures and strong winds. Conifers, or evergreens, are better suited to cold weather. Their waxy, cutin-coated needles last two or three years and help retain water, so they don't dry out. Squirrels, owls, wood ducks, and songbirds take refuge from severe weather beneath the needles of conifers and within the cavities of hardwoods. Other animals take shelter in holes, logs,under rocks, leaves or underground. Chipmunks and other rodents dig tunnels to store food and hibernate. Trees and bushes produce hearty fruits and nuts to help animals survive the winter, such as crab apples and berries. Some animals gather extra food in the fall, store it for the winter, while some spend the season nibbling on moss, twigs and bark. And though many birds are known for flying south, some stick around. Cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, chickadees, and gold finches stay and feed off the thickets of berry bushes in the park.
Keep an ear out for bird calls and an eye out for animal tracks in the snow when walking in this local winter wonderland!
Address: 228-06 Northern Blvd.
Douglaston, NY 11362
About Alley Pond Environmental Center
Stroller parking: Yes
Stroller check: Yes
The Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC), a nonprofit environmental education organization, is dedicated to educating children and adults in the New York metropolitan area, protecting and preserving Alley Pond Park, open spaces and waterbodies, and advocating for sustainable environmental policies and practices.
Alley Pond Park is the home of the Douglaston Estate Windmill, a reminder of their agricultural past.
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