Everything You Need To Know (And Some You Don’t) About Groundhog Day in Kane County
Groundhog Day always sneaks up on me. “Stealth rodent” are the first two words that come to mind.
I don’t know why I’m compelled to put together the annual “Groundhog Day” story, but I am, so here’s all you need to know — and probably a lot of stuff you don’t — about Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, 2017, in Kane County, IL.
This Looks Like Fun
Want to know if the groundhog sees its shadow?
Hickory Knolls Discover Center in St. Charles is having a laid back, see-your-shadow event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2.
Advance registration is recommended, but you can drop in any time for “free, self-guided shadow activities.”
Celebrate in Woodstock
I say tout the Woodstock event pretty much every year, but I never get up enough energy to actually experience it for myself. Maybe 2017 is the year!
The Punxsutawney Phil groundhog event gets all the national media attention, but I suspect the Groundhog Day celebration in nearby Woodstock, IL, might be just as good or better. Yes, Woodstock isn’t in Kane County, but it’s the closest big-deal Groundhog Day event to us, and it looks like fun. Woodstock, of course, is where they shot a good deal of the movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliott, and directed by the late Harold Ramis.
Groundhogs Can Be Pests
While we’ll all be looking for groundhogs on Feb. 2, the Aurora’s Animal Control Division actually has a webpage worth of step-by-step instructions on how to get rid of them.
Groundhogs are expert diggers and healthy eaters, so some common complaints are large burrows next to a house, concrete collapsing due to digging and garden or crops being eaten.
Valerie Blaine, nature programs manager for the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, shares a load of fun facts about the groundhog, or woodchuck, in this KCC article, which we posted around this time last year.
Weighing in at about 10 pounds, the woodchuck is a hefty rodent, Blaine says. Despite his bulky body and lumbering gait, the woodchuck can boogie when he needs to escape a predator. Woodchucks run at a loping gallop of about 10 mph.
“They do occasionally climb trees to reach food or escape a predator,” Blaine says. “Or perhaps just to prove that they can.”
Why Timing Matters
According a very cool National Geographic article, “9 Things You Didn’t Know About Groundhogs,” the males of the species are especially good barometers of the end of winter, and for a very good reason.
“Groundhogs have to know just when to emerge from hibernation to mate so that their offspring will have the best chance of survival,” the article says. “If their instincts are that good, I’ll take the groundhog’s shadow over your average weatherman any day of the year.”