Happy spring! At least I think it’s spring… For the last week or two I’ve been slowly opening my curtains in the morning with my fingers crossed, hoping the ground isn’t covered in snow. While I love a snow-filled winter, I’m ready for it to start feeling like spring.
The days are still cold and cloudy, but if you have been outside lately, you’ll know that nature is beginning to wake up. Let’s take this opportunity to see what sort of changes are going on outside!
The bugling of sandhill cranes can be heard overhead as many of them have begun their migration north. If you visit a local wetland, you may notice Canada geese by the hundreds (even thousands in some places) honking to their heart’s content.
I was recently drawn in to a small vernal pool when on a hike with my family. The sound of chorus frogs filled the air and reminded me that even though it may not feel like it, spring is here! Click HERE to see (and hear) the video I took. The best way to identify a chorus frog by its call is to imagine running your thumb down the teeth of a comb. They sound oddly similar!
If you’re like me, you may be eagerly waiting for plants to emerge from the soil. Some of my favorite plants are spring ephemerals which are some of the first plants to bloom. They have adapted to the cold and low light conditions. Think of bloodroot, trout lily, and Dutchman’s breeches. These are the early plants that bloom before the trees start to leaf out.
While not a spring ephemeral by definition, the plant pictured above is a true harbinger of spring. They are pasque flowers in a very early stage (roughly 1″ tall). Pasque flowers are covered with fine silky hairs to help insulate the plant from cold conditions. In just a week or two, these low-growing purple flowered plants will be in full bloom!
Another less known sign of spring is the emergence of skunk cabbage. It usually pops up in the late winter or early spring while snow is still on the ground. As its name implies, it’s called skunk cabbage because it emits a very unpleasant smell (maybe not unpleasant to everyone). The plant uses its smell to attract pollinators. While skunk cabbage loses its leaves annually, the plant is able to live up to 20 years!
Lastly, if you need a little more proof that spring is actually here (I’m still not entirely convinced), head outside at dusk and if you’re in the right spot, you may hear woodcock peenting. I did this with my family last week and it was amazing!
Male woodcock (also known as ‘timberdoodle’, ‘Labrador twister’, ‘night partridge’, and bog sucker’) can be seen doing their evening spring flights to attract mates. They start by making ‘peent’ sounds from their display area and then shoot upward into the sky (roughly 200-350′) in a wide spiral while making a twittering noise. After about 30 seconds of this, they zigzag back down to the same spot they left from and begin peenting again. Check out THIS video of one calling.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my virtual tour of nature as it’s happening. However you experience the outdoors or nature, be it physical, virtual, spiritual, or anything in between, I encourage you to do it!
See you next month!