Winter at the Las Vegas Wash
Although each area of the country experiences seasons differently, all wetlands experience some type of change. At the wetlands along the Las Vegas Wash, seasonal changes are quite noticeable as trees drop their leaves and cattails and bulrush turn from green to brown as some of them go dormant. Through all of this, animals in the wetlands must be able to adapt.
For ducks, geese and other migratory birds, wetlands are vital to the migratory cycle. Our wetlands provide food, resting places and seasonal habitats. Some birds use wetlands for breeding, coming back every spring to mate and produce offspring. With the cooler temperatures of late fall and winter, the wetland ponds fill with waterfowl that have migrated south to our warmer climate from their cold northern breeding grounds. Hundreds of mallards, gadwalls, wigeons and other ducks arrive every fall and then fly off again in spring.
Wetland animals and those in the adjacent uplands develop adaptations of all kinds to allow them to cope with life during cooler temperatures. For example, frogs and turtles go deep into the mud to stay warm, while small mammals often have tunnels and shafts in the ground to protect themselves from the elements. Some, like the western harvest mouse, build nests in vegetation like birds and desert tortoises enter burrows and stay there all winter to avoid the chill.
Whatever the weather, each creature has its own response. Regardless of whether a species migrates, adapts or hibernates, spring is just around the corner and soon, it all begins again.