Topic – Autumn Days

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Autumn Days

When summer is over, cool winds begin to blow. The season of autumn, or fall, brings many changes to plants, animals, and people.

Colour-Changing Trees

As summer comes to an end, the days begin to get shorter and cooler. That gives trees the signal that winter is coming. Throughout the spring and summer, a substance in the leaves called chlorophyll (you say it like this: KLOHR-uh-fill) helps the trees manufacture food. Chlorophyll also makes leaves green. By the time autumn is here, leaves stop making food and the chlorophyll disappears. The yellows and oranges that are hidden in the leaves are now visible. Some leaves are red because they contain a sugar called glucose (you say it like this: GLOO-cohs).

All across Canada, trees such as maples, oaks, and birches begin to turn gold, orange, and red. These trees are called deciduous (you say it like this: duh-SID-yoo-uss) trees and they lose their leaves in autumn. But some trees stay green and do not lose their leaves, even throughout the winter. These are coniferous (you say it like this: KON-iff-fer-uss) trees, such as pines, spruces, and firs.

A Colour-Changing Bird

Many birds fly south in autumn when temperatures begin to drop. Robins, waxwings, bluebirds, and other birds migrate to warmer places when cold winds begin to blow. But some birds are able to stay warm and find enough to eat, even when snow covers the ground. Blue jays, cardinals, and chickadees all brighten grey winter days. They eat food people put out in bird feeders, as well as seeds and berries they can find in gardens and fields.

In the Arctic, the ptarmigan (you say it like this: TAR-mih-gun) stays in the north all year round, but it changes colour in the autumn. During the summer, this bird is mostly brown. As winter approaches, its brown feathers are replaced with off-white feathers. They make the ptarmigan difficult to see against the winter snow.

A Long Nap

Some animals survive the winter by sleeping throughout the long, cold months. This deep sleep is called hibernation. In autumn, hibernating animals begin to eat a lot. They need to put on lots of fat to give them the energy they will need while they are sleeping. These animals hibernate because the foods they eat are very hard to find during the winter.

Animals such as groundhogs, snakes, and bats all hibernate. They find a safe cave, or burrow, where they can rest. When they are hibernating, their body temperature drops very low and they breathe very slowly. They do not eat and they are hard to wake up.

Most people think bears hibernate but they do not. They sleep a lot during winter, but they wake up easily. As well, their breathing speed decreases only a little.

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