winter pond

Photo: Susan Barlow/MNN Flickr Group

Looking through these photos, you may find yourself humming the tune "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." This is the season of frost and snow flurries, of white ground and grey skies, of silver and gold twinkling in the sunlight. It's a wonderful time for photographers to capture the beauty of the cold, crisp season.

One of the amazing things about winter is that you never quite know what scene you will wake up to. After a cold night, the morning can reveal a white blanket of snow or a mere coating of frost crystals, hinting that winter hasn't staked its claim yet.

These images have been submitted to our Flickr group by readers, and perusing through them will likely get you in the mood to go on a stroll through the park in the chilly air, just to see how lovely it is outside.

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belted kingfisher

Photo: Larry Keller/MNN Flickr Group

Animals that don't change their color for the winter stand in stark contrast to the white snow. It's a great season for appreciating the colorful beauty of many bird species like this belted kingfisher.
 
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winter bridge

Photo: Susan Barlow/MNN Flickr Group

Bare branches and frosted paths make even the most routine of walks feel like you're roaming through a fairytale.

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winter branches

Photo: Mary Lou Endres/MNN Flickr Group

Branches heavy with snow sparkle in sunlight. The combination offers a beautiful silver-and-gold greeting in the morning. And when the sun warms the snow enough, it looks like diamonds are dripping from the trees.

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winter water falls

Photo: Loreta Rumsey/MNN Flickr Group

Only fast-moving water can escape the inevitable transition into ice. Even so, waterfalls become a beautiful contrast between liquid and solid.

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ice branches

Photo: Mary Lou Endres/MNN Flickr Group

With the right combination of wet and cold, ice forms over branches, encasing them as if in glass. Winter provides an incredible diversity of types of ice, most of which looks like art.

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winter deer

Photo: Larry Keller/MNN Flickr Group

Though well adapted for cold temperatures, many species struggle in the winter. If you're an animal lover, there are ways you can help backyard wildlife during the winter season.

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winter snowfall

Photo: Mary Lou Endres/MNN Flickr Group

Watching snow fall is one of the most magical parts of winter. Whenever you get a chance, sit for a moment and just watch the silent white flakes drift down.

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white finch

Photo: Larry Keller/MNN Flickr Group

This unusual finch is dressed for winter all the time. Usually this species is brown and black, but a genetic condition has given it white feathers. Perhaps winter is its favorite season, the time it finally blends in perfectly.

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waterfall

Photo: Loreta Rumsey/MNN Flickr Group

Despite the hardships it brings, winter offers some of the most incredible beauty we have the pleasure of seeing all year. It also offers excuses to go outside to enjoy the snow and get extra cold, which makes coming in and curling up with a cup of hot cocoa all the more sweet.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.