Monday, April 4, 2022

Give Back to Our Planet This Earth Day!

Spring is upon us here at Beaver Creek Reserve and with the new season comes holidays and special events. April 22, 2022 is Earth Day! Be sure to show your love and support to mother nature this year by picking up some garbage, recycling, or even just spending some time outside to connect with the natural terrain around you.

Unsure of what to do this Earth Day? Beaver Creek Reserve has got you covered with many springtime activities coming up including our annual Earth Week Challenge. The Earth Week Challenge is completely FREE to register and runs from April 16-April 24. 

There are anywhere from 15-20 tasks, which can be completed within that time frame. The tasks are either free or affordable and all contribute to giving back to the planet. Our goal is to encourage a sustainable and environmentally aware lifestyle for those living in the Chippewa Valley area. 

Our newest event this year takes you through our beautiful trails where you can either walk or run and spread as many native seeds as you can. By doing this, you are increasing the number of native plants which are essential to our ecosystem and also providing new plants for our pollinators to work their magic on. Be sure to sign up your team today!

Aside from what goes on at the Reserve, there are many other opportunities you can do at home that help the environment. Here is a list of things you can do this Earth Day:

  1. Recycle bottles, milk carton containers, etc., and use them for an in-home garden.

  2. Take a walk around your local park or neighborhood and pick up any garbage (Eau Claire County parks are free April 18-24).

  3. Go to the store and purchase seeds to start your own fruit or vegetable garden (or buy from our Native Plant Sale, the online store opens April 20).

  4. Start a composting pile!

  5. Shop sustainable products when buying items such as soap or cleaning products.

  6. Switch your toothbrush from a plastic one to a bamboo one!

  7. Put out a bird feeder or sprinkle bird food.

  8. Make your own butterfly or bee garden by planting new flowers outside your house!

Be sure to always treat mother earth with respect, love, and absolute kindness. Stay Green!

Monday, March 7, 2022

The Best Place to Take Your Kids!

Beaver Creek Reserve was voted the best place to take your kids in the Chippewa Valley according to the “Best of the Chippewa Valley 2021” reader poll by Volume One. Beaver Creek Reserve has many different options for kids of all ages to learn and explore, and the best part, the activities change with the seasons! Open year-round at the Wise Nature Center, we have our Scheels Discovery Room that has a ton of interesting facts about plants and animals that are native to the area. During our colder weather, we have snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals available. Rentals cost $3 each for members and $10 each for nonmembers. We had our Christmas Bird Count in December, where we counted thousands of visiting winter birds. This past month, we hosted Frosty Frolic, a less common winter event here in the area, dog sledding, Snowshoe Lacing, and a candlelight snowshoe hike.

As the weather begins to get warmer, the activities in the winter shift over to spring! With new growth comes new activities at the Reserve! To kick off spring we have Beekeeping 101 where you can learn how to become a master beekeeper. This is the first course of three offered throughout the year and is instructed by members of the Chippewa Valley Beekeepers. We also have DIY Salve Making as well. Later, we have a bunch of fun new events like Maple Syrup Saturday where you and your family can learn about the history of maple sugaring here at Beaver Creek Reserve, enjoy maple doughnuts and hot chocolate, and get the opportunity to “adopt-a-tree.” We also have other events including, Owl Pellet Dissection, where kids can learn about an owl’s typical diet. We also have our Exotic Pet Surrender event where anyone in the area that may not be able to care for their exotic pet can bring it in! During this, we will also have a presentation on invasive species. In April, we have Nature Tots: Leap into Spring, where kids can learn about what’s blooming in the spring and all the new colors we’ll start to see.

In the summer, we have our Budding Butterflies camp where kids have the opportunity to learn about the cycle of a butterfly. Not only are the kids able to learn about the butterflies but they also can try to catch some. Registration for camps opens on Saturday, March 12th at 8:00 a.m. A few of the other camps we are offering include Soaring Scientists, Outdoor Water Adventures, and so much more! If you miss out on butterfly camp, come visit our Butterfly House! The house opens on July 5th and will close on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend for the summer. Stop by and see hundreds of native-Wisconsin butterflies! 

Beaver Creek Reserve always has something for everyone, and it is changing all the time! Take your kids out for a beautiful day in nature.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Motus at Beaver Creek Reserve

 By: Tully Frain, Beaver Creek Reserve's Avian Field Technician

Beaver Creek Reserve has been monitoring birds through banding, surveys, and nest monitoring for over 20 years. Beaver Creek is constantly improving our program to stay relevant, provide to our local community, aid in the conservation, and contribute to the scientific community. Beaver Creek is looking at the future of bird research and is making plans to collaborate with avian researchers on a global level through a new program called Motus. Motus is a wildlife tracking technology out of Canada that uses radio signal towers to track migrating flying animals, from eagles to butterflies. Transmitter tags are placed on a migrating bird and when the bird flies within 15 km of a tracking tower, the tower detects and records the signal from the tag. This data is then submitted to an international database that keeps track of all tagged birds’ location information. 

Motus will dramatically change how we think about migration dynamics and migration ecology. Motus allows us to see specifics about how birds migrate that we haven’t witnessed before. This technology will reveal exact migration patterns, stop-over locations, and travel speeds. In addition, all this data will improve conservation. This data will enable us to identify and protect critical land for birds’ survival and respond to changes that these migrators make due to our changing climate. There will also be extensive educational opportunities, allowing us to better conserve and create a real-world understanding of how migration works. The data is available to everyone allowing all to see what birds are depending upon the Reserve, your backyard, and our protected lands for food, breeding, and migration.

Motus has been implemented extensively throughout the Northeast to great success, with over 600 towers lining the east coast. Until recently, there have been few towers in the Midwest. The lack of Midwest towers is changing with several states investing heavily in the technology, putting up towers across their respective states. Unfortunately, Wisconsin has yet to get behind the effort to implement this vital new technology. This leaves it up to local nature centers and universities to fill the void. Only seven towers have been set up in Wisconsin, all by nature centers and universities. 

Beaver Creek Reserve has the opportunity to get ahead of this technology by installing a Motus tower right here on our property. The Reserve is on the Midwest Migration Network’s list for goal locations to build a tower. We are also an essential area for migration, given our proximity to both the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. The Chippewa Valley serves as a critical migration conduit to the sub-boreal forest located north of us. 

Ecology research is becoming increasingly complicated, but a Motus tower is a relatively simple concept that most people can understand. All Motus data is available for the public to see online, with birds being tracked in real-time. It will allow us to connect a broader audience with nature and create a better understanding of migration dynamics for the public. A Motus tower will keep the Citizen Science Center from falling behind and prepare for 21st-century science.

Beaver Creek Reserve’s goal is to create operational towers starting summer 2022. Our staff will attend trainings this spring to learn how to build and operate the towers. After the trainings, we will implement our plan to partner with the Midwest Migration Network and erect a tower near Beaver Creek to add to the Midwest Motus goals Then through partnerships with private landowners, conservation organizations, and universities we hope to find the support and locations for additional towers covering the region from Beaver Creek Reserve to the Mississippi River. We hope the local community will get behind this project to expand Beaver Creek Reserve’s ability to connect people with nature.

We are now accepting donations to construct a Motus tower right here at Beaver Creek Reserve! To donate to this project, please see our website for more information. Donations will help support construction of the tower(s), research projects, and educational trainings for our staff.


Kendrick, Sarah.(2021, December 4) Motus: Tracking Birds with New Technology[webinar]         Missouri River Bird Observatory 

Monday, January 31, 2022

Nature's Symmetry: Snow Crystals

By: Abby Mueller

Has there ever been a snowy day where you’ve stopped and looked at the tiny snowflakes that land all around you? Snowflakes beautiful symmetry and complex designs fascinate many people, young and old alike. 

But what is it that makes a snowflake symmetrical, and just how do they form? Is it true that no two snowflakes are the same? 

To start, a snowflake is actually an ice crystal which forms from an extremely cold water droplet freezing onto a dust or pollen particle in the air. As the ice crystal falls, water molecules in the form of water vapor latch on and cause the crystal to grow. This process is called nucleation. But, depending on the temperature and humidity, different types of snowflakes form. 

These types of snowflakes are organized into 7 basic categories of snow crystal types - plates, stellar crystals, columns, needles, spatial dendrites, capped columns, and irregular forms.  Around the freezing temperature, hexagonal plates and six sided snowflakes form - the most well recognized and familiar snowflake crystal shapes! In the image below, you can see the different conditions under which other categories form.

The Snow Crystal Morphology Diagram by Dr. Nakaya

It is the symmetry of these structures that commonly captures people’s interest. But, snowflakes are not all symmetrical. If you’ve ever caught a snowflake and looked at it, you would notice they can have some irregularities. This is because of the nature of the growth of the snow crystal. 

Snow crystals first start from a droplet in the sky which freezes into a tiny particle of ice. This ice starts collecting water vapor on its surface, and so the particle starts to form facets. A facet is a flat surface on a 3D shape, like the flat surface on a prism. For snow crystals, facets form by water molecules striking the crystal surface and sticking. On rough surfaces they will stick well, and on smooth surfaces less well. This is because on rougher surfaces there are more readily available chemical bonds. This causes the rough surfaces to fill in fast, leaving just the smooth faceted surfaces. On snow crystals they form six sided prisms - this is because the shape of the ice crystal mirrors the shape of the molecule forming the crystal. You can have a complete snowflake through just facets (see the plate type with the categories listed in the image above) but some snowflakes can develop branches too. 

A Fernlike Stellar Dendrite Snow Crystal
As the snow crystal becomes larger, the plate becomes unstable and the six corners of the snow crystal grow faster, creating the arms of the snowflake. While the arms all grow independently as water molecules add themselves to the structure, the atmospheric conditions as the snow crystal moves through the clouds are the same for all of the branches. This is what causes their structure to be symmetrical - as they are all growing under identical conditions, they will have an identical shape. But, not all snowflakes are actually perfectly symmetrical, in fact many snowflakes are not. Specifically, fernlike stellar dendrites have very rapid growth and send out their side branches at irregular intervals, causing them to have slight irregularities in their symmetry.

As the snowflake falls through the sky, it goes through different atmospheric conditions, 
causing it to alternate between faceting and branching. 

No two snowflakes are perfectly identical either - this is because of the conditions of the outside world. In a lab environment where temperature and humidity are controlled, two nearly identical snowflakes can be created. But in the outdoors where these factors often change, each snowflake will have slightly different conditions as it falls. This leads to different growth and different snow crystal structures! 

Keep an eye out for the next time it snows (hopefully soon!) and take a close up look at some snow crystal structures yourself. See if you can guess the temperature and humidity by the structure of the crystal, but most importantly, simply enjoy the beauty of the snowflakes!




Thursday, December 30, 2021

Hoarfrost: Living in a Winter Wonderland

Photo Credit: Pixabay Images
By: Mia Clementi

Ever wonder why some winter mornings you wake up and look outside to see the trees glistening with what looks like a fresh coat of icicles painted onto each branch? You know… the mornings where it feels like you just stepped into a winter wonderland in one of those Hallmark movies? Well this magical experience is not actually magic at all. It is a winter phenomenon that occurs when the conditions are just right. This is called hoarfrost. Hoarfrost is not like your regular old windshield frost we typically see on cold winter mornings. It occurs when moisture in the air skips the droplet stage and freezes instantly onto an object. This is only able to happen when the air and the object itself is at or below freezing. Different from regular frost, hoarfrost requires the surrounding air to be much more moist. This moisture can come from a variety of sources. It can come from humid air simply moving into the area with our regular weather pattern, or it can be from moisture being released from a nearby unfrozen lake or stream.

Photo credit: Colleen Hart
The Weather Channel Facebook page 
So why does hoarfrost look so different from regular old windshield frost? The answer is in the way it “grows.” Hoarfrost develops long ice needles that “grow” as more water droplets come into contact with the below freezing object, such as a branch on a tree or a fence. This is what gives the trees a hairy-like effect on those winter wonderland mornings. Sometimes we can see these needles more prominently growing in one direction or on one side of the tree. This is because hoarfrost “grows” in the direction with which the moisture is arriving from. This hairy-like effect is actually what gave it its name. The word hoarfrost is of English descent describing the resemblance of an old man’s beard. So next time you go outside and see the trees glistening with brand new ice crystals you can think it’s as though the trees grew a new beard to help them weather the harsh winter cold.

Photo Credit: Michael Fox


Sunday, December 12, 2021

Winter is here!


    With colder temperatures and snow beginning to fall in our area comes winter activities, and Beaver Creek has plenty of fun things to do this winter! Cross-country skis and snowshoes are available to rent, but we need at least six inches of snow out at the Reserve before we can start renting. Stay updated with us on our website and social media pages to be the first to know when rentals become available! Rentals cost $3 each for members and $10 each for nonmembers. 
    We also have our Christmas Bird Count which has different location options depending on the day. The Christmas Bird Count is an annual survey where bird lovers drive around their assigned location counting as many birds as they can see. According to the National Audubon Society, the history of the count is this, "Prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas 'Side Hunt.' They would choose sides and go afield with their guns—whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won. Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the then-nascent Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition—a 'Christmas Bird Census' that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them." Our first Christmas Bird Count is on Saturday Dec. 18th from 6:30am to noon in Holcomb, WI. Check out our events calendar on our website for more dates and registration deadlines. Other events to look out for are Snowshoe lacing where participants will learn how to make their own snowshoes, registration closes on December 23rd; as well as learning how-to cross-country ski for beginners. Make sure to check out our events calendar for more details.
    We also have virtual event options! On Monday December 20th from 10-11am, there is a presentation called "Night Lights: Bioluminescent Insects and other creatures that glow" where participants to get to "learn about the science behind bioluminescence, what insects glow and why they developed these mechanisms." Make sure to register for this event by Sunday December 19th. Another virtual event to check out is on Tuesday January 4th from 2-3pm, called "Navigating with Stars Around the World", participants learn about stargazing and navigation. Make sure to register for this event by Monday January 3rd. All registration is done on our website. Make sure to check out our events calendar for more virtual events. We hope the winter is enjoyable!

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Beaver Creek 75th Anniversary Storyboard

Anniversaries are all about celebration and Beaver Creek has a lot to celebrate! We are celebrating 75 years of connecting people with nature next year. As a part of this momentous occasion, we have a few different projects in place, one of them being our Storyboard. This project is all about showcasing all the incredible people that helped make Beaver Creek the wonderful place that we all know it as today. We are looking for pictures, stories, or both, of memories made at Beaver Creek or the Eau Claire County Youth Camp, whether that was staying overnight at our youth camp, visiting on a school trip, exploring a trail or volunteering for a special event, we want to hear about it. We ask that if you send a picture you include a caption, as well as your name and date(s) that goes with the memory or memories (if you remember) with the story or stories. This is a super exciting opportunity as we will be collaborating with the Chippewa Valley Museum on the project and these memories will be donated to the museum once collected.

Now you might be asking, how do I go about submitting these memories? We have a variety of options. You can visit the Nature Center at Beaver Creek and fill out a story card. These are located in the lobby next to the front desk. The hours for the center are Mondays - Saturdays from 9:30 am - 3 pm and Sundays from 12 - 3 pm. You can also comment on this blog if you would like, email or mail your information in to: Beaver Creek Reserve at S1 County Rd K, Fall Creek, WI 54742.

This is an exciting time at the Reserve and we hope you submit your stories! Make sure to stay updated with our blog and social media pages for other exciting projects going on throughout the year!