1 The Birds are Singing
Backyard birds are one of the best predictors of spring. Bluebirds do not come north until all chance of winter has passed and they are assured an ample food supply.
We started hearing bird song in mid-February from chickadees, titmice, and red-winged blackbirds. The cardinals sing their “cheer, cheer, cheer” to say that we are turning a corner.
Many migrating birds are arriving as many as two weeks early compared to decades past (and some never leave!).
As the days gradually become lighter and temperatures start to lift, the chorus will become louder. In March, a chorus of birdsong fills the air as the migrating birds return. Warblers, sparrows, yellowthroat, and finch are more favorites. You may hear the knock of woodpeckers, too! Even ducks start to return to our lakes.
2 Trees are Budding
Observe the buds on your trees. Some of the first trees to bud are the willows and silver maples, followed in March with the red maples. Another sign is the flowing sap from the tree with sugar sheds. The first to notice the sweet sap from the trees seem to be the squirrels, who start poking around the trees looking for oozing sap.
3 Peepers are Peeping
As soon as the ponds and wetlands thaw—as early as mid-March—listen for the spring peppers (Pseudacris crucifer) and the western chorus frog (Pseudacris triseriata). These tiny amphibians sing loudly, creating quite a chorus as the sun sets. Like its name, the spring peeper tends to call a high single “peep!” Put all those spring peepers together and it’s a “peep, peep, peep, peep!” The call of the chorus frog is hard to describe. It sounds a little bit like someone is running their thumb along a comb.
These tiny frogs live beneath logs or underground and are freeze-tolerant, and tend to like moist, wooded areas, ponds, and wetlands.
As they emerge from hibernation and begin to spawn, look for the appearance of small jelly-like egg masses. While it may seem like there are an overabundance of tadpoles, most (up to 90%) do not survive do to predators.
4 Fresh, Soft Scents
Ever notice that entrancing smell of spring? The Earth is awakening and it does indeed smell more, well, earthy. With warmer weather, misty mornings and soft wet smells fill the air.
5 Butterflies and Bumblebees Come Back
As warmer weather returns, you may start to see butterflies and bumblebees return. Both are pollination wizards.
To encourage butterflies to reside in your garden, it’s best to include food sources in the form of host plants for caterpillars and nectar plants for butterflies.
We adore the slow, fat, gentle bumbles. The first bumblebees are the queens who survived the winter months. If you wish to attract butterflies and butterflies, be sure to have available flowers and plants.