While most of us would rather curl up inside and watch Netflix instead of braving the bitter cold, naturalists at Mill Creek Park say some plants and animals actually thrive in this weather.
“The park is used to this. It’s natural for it to drop this low,” Cody Stoll said. “A lot of the animals, you’ll see, are used to the weather, they’ll adapt to this. Their fur might get a little thicker and they create a wax coating to keep them from getting too wet.”
Friday afternoon, turkeys ate outside of the Ford Nature Center. One of the ways the birds keep warm is by lifting one leg to attract more heat to their core.
“Especially here, a lot of the birds, you can see just how active they are,” Nick Parich said.
Naturalists are careful to make sure the birds have plenty to eat.
“We’re keeping the bird feeders full,” Stoll said.
As far as plants, there’s something in your garden that likes the chilly weather.
“If you’re a garlic planter, then the more frost, the better for the garlic,” Stoll said.
A lot of trees, including hemlocks and pines, are built for these temperatures.
“They actually produce a sap that’ll help keep them warm,” Parich said.
Throughout the park, nature is responding to the single-digit temperatures. From Lanterman’s Mill to all of Mill Creek’s lakes, the ice and snow are creating a winter wonderland that is incredible to see.
The Mill is one of the most picturesque sights in Youngstown during the winter. Large icicles have now formed on rocks near the waterfall. Even some of the fall itself has frozen but it’ll take much colder temperatures to stop all of the water from running.
“Underneath is all magma. It’s really hot to keep it melted, so it’s keeping the rocks on the crest hot as well,” Stoll said. “Since they’re hot, the water that’s running across those rocks — even though the water is cold to us — it’s still relatively warm.”
You can still see breaks in the ice at the Mill but the same can’t be said for Lake Glacier. It’s living up to its name because it was a large sheet of ice on Friday.
Both Parich and Stoll say this is one of the best times to be at the park, especially if you like hiking. It’s peaceful and not a lot of people are on the trails.
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