September, 22, 2020 is the Autumn equinox. What does that mean?
The Autumn equinox is officially the beginning of fall. It is the day where there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. Starting at the equinox, there are less and less daylight hours and it also gets cooler and cooler. It will continue to do so until we reach the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the start of winter.
Every year, the seasons happen in a pattern. The four seasons are winter, spring, summer and fall.
Summer days are warmer because there is more daylight. The sun is out for longer on summer days and the sunlight helps warm the Earth. In contrast, days are shorter in winter, and there’s less time for sunlight to heat up the Earth.
Some kids like summer because it is warm, and they can go swimming. Others like fall because the leaves on the trees start to turn colors. In winter, trees have no leaves and the days are shortest and the weather is the coldest.
Sometimes it snows here in Northwest Arkansas and that can be fun too. In spring, the trees begin to get flowers and new leaves again. And the cycle starts all over again. The seasons happen in the same order every year: winter, spring, summer and fall.
What do animals do to get ready for the winter?
As the weather gets cooler during the Autumn equinox, we put on jackets and start to spend more time inside. Animals who live outside start getting ready for winter too. Here are a few ways animals get ready:
• They migrate. Some animals, such as birds and butterflies, fly to a
warmer place in the winter to live and find food. This is called migration.
• They grow a warmer coat. Animals like rabbits grow thicker fur in the winter to keep warm. Even indoor animals may grow more fur. Does your dog or cat get fluffier in the winter?
• They gather extra food. Squirrels, mice and beavers stock up on food during the fall. They collect food such as nuts and leaves to store and eat later.
• They find shelter. Animals that stay in cold places may live inside trees, under rocks or underground during the winter. Animals such as squirrels stay close together in a group to be warm in their home.
• They hibernate. Do you like to stay in bed when it’s cold? So do some animals! They fall into a special deep sleep called hibernation during the winter. Their body temperature drops and they snooze for months to save their energy. Bears, skunks and chipmunks hibernate.
Can you spot animals getting ready for cooler weather during the fall?
Look for animal footprints (called tracks) in your yard or playground!