Wilton's Woodcock Nature Center offers wreaths for wildlife

WILTON — Despite the restrictions of COVID-19 this holiday season, some local critters will not be going hungry thanks to the kindness of some area residents and the Woodcock Nature Center.

On Tuesday, Wreaths for Wildlife kits were distributed for pick-up. While previously the center had invited people in to work on their animal-friendly holiday creations there, this year people received the bulk of the requisite materials “to go.”

“It has everything that they will need,” explained Jennifer Bradshaw, early childhood education coordinator, including dried fruit, pine cones, milkweed pods and of course the wreaths themselves, along with instructions on creating the pieces.

“It’s just an awesome thing for everybody,” she said. “It’s a great activity for kids and families, but it’s also doing something special for wildlife.”

The wreaths will not only provide food for animals during the winter months, Bradshaw said, but also have nesting material that certain birds can use.

Redding-based Wildlife in Crisis recently posted that it has been receiving many migrating birds who are arriving emaciated due to declining insect populations and sustained drought.

The group is encouraging residents to put food and water out for migrating birds, including mealworms and wild blueberries.

“Thousands of migrating birds have recently died in the southwestern US. Flycatchers, swallows and warblers are among the species falling out of the sky as part of a mass die-off across New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and farther north into Nebraska, with growing concerns there could be hundreds of thousands dead,” Wildlife in Crisis reported.

Since 1970, three billion birds have been lost in the US and Canada, according to Wildlife in Crisis.

“Mass die-offs such as this can have an effect on populations of both common and sensitive species. This is a crisis,” they said.

Droughts this year have caused birds to begin their migration in a compromised state without sufficient fat reserves, according to Wildlife in Crisis.

“These birds are now encountering storms and wildfires as they migrate. Please help them on their journey south this year by offering life saving food and water,” they said.

Woodcock Nature Center also held its annual Christmas wreath decorating via pick up to do at home this year.

“It’s been obviously a very hard year on everybody for a variety of reasons,” explained Laura Lynch of Wilton, praising the activity.

“It’s think it’s great how all the organizations in town are finding ways to pivot and finding ways to do things,” she said.

While this is the fourth year doing the activity—and the first time organizing it for pickup—Bradshaw said they still sold out within a few days.

Located on 149 acres of state-protected land, the Woodcock Nature Preserve includes a pond, wetlands and three miles of publicly accessible woodland trails. The Center is home to a variety of living local and exotic creatures including snakes, frogs and lizards as well as a handful of injured birds of prey.

Its woodland trails are open to all, sunrise to sunset, everyday of the year.

Woodcock has been a source of environmental and nature education since 1972. The staff, which includes three full-time educators, work with local youth to teach and develop programming designed to instill a love and respect for nature.