Signs of Spring in The Last Green Valley
“In our latitude the first day of spring is only occasionally a spring day. The calendar spring, the astronomical spring of the vernal equinox, may arrive under sullen skies with cold rain or with a blizzard hurling its snow from the north.” — Edwin Way Teale, “A Walk Through the Year”
Early this morning at 2 a.m., while most of us were still asleep, the Vernal Equinox began and, on this day, our life-giving sun passes the celestial equator and enters the Northern Hemisphere. The signs of spring are everywhere, many beginning earlier when mid-March daytime temperatures headed into the 40s and above, beginning the thaw. And now spring is here.
For our larger raptor birds such as bald eagles, owls and hawks, another year of new life has already commenced with eggs and hatchlings occupying nests. Early arriving migrating birds like red-winged blackbirds first showed up in our neighborhood marsh a few weeks back. The males with their distinctive bright scarlet wing bands create a flash of color against their black feathers. Clinging to swaying reeds and cattails, they call their gurling trill song kon-ka-reeeee to announce territory and attract females.
Our year-round resident birds are moving away from their winter flocks and staking out nesting territories. These past few weeks I have heard the simple “peter-peter-peter” echoing territorial call of the little gray tufted titmouse, another early sign of spring. I am glad to know that my well-stocked feeder has helped this inquisitive resident get through the cold months of winter.
Last week I checked our bluebird and house wren nesting boxes and cleaned out the grass and debris from overwintering mice and remnants of last year’s nest. Already the male blue bird has been seen singing from the top of one of the houses. We have bluebirds year-round, but it isn’t until spring that I hear the gentle murmuring song of the male. The house wren spends the winter in southern climates and will arrive with other migrating songbirds in the weeks ahead. I am ever hopeful for a successful nesting season on our property for both species. Soon other year-round resident birds will begin their territorial songs. I anxiously await that first glorious morning when I’ll be awakened by the dawn chorus of robins and cardinals singing from the treetops at first light.
It seems the first signs of spring mostly come from birds, soon followed by the trill of peepers and tree frogs and the movement of other amphibians to ponds and vernal pools for mating and egg laying.
For me, the first swell of buds on our native trees and bushes is a wonderful sight. Red maples provide the first blush of life, especially those located near or in wetlands. I first noticed buds on our forsythia bush a week ago and expect yellow flowers will soon appear. At this writing, the cold of February and early March seems to have held back our crocus from stirring in a sunny spot by the kitchen window, and the daffodils have yet to show their green heads in the front yard center garden. Being patient can be hard on the first day of spring, but the inevitable change to warmer days, green trees and bird song is here.
If you enjoy the spring season as much as I do, then you’ll want to check out The Last Green Valley’s Spring Outdoors program – three months full of outdoor (and some indoor) experiences for you and your family. The calendar of activities is updated regularly, and all events and programs are listed on the TLGV website. You’ll want to check back often since programs are added throughout the season. Here is a link to help you get started on a season full of adventures in The Last Green Valley.
We live in a beautiful place called The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. Today is the first day of spring! Welcome to the season of warm days, birdsong, blooming flowers and the possibility of new life emerging each and every day. I hope you’ll join me in taking in each day with joy and gratitude for beautiful days to come.
Bill Reid is the Chief Ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and can be reached at email@example.com or 860-774-3300.
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