Nature in Spring: An Overview


magnolia bud
Magnolia bud just opening. Photo by Donna L. Long.

Nature in spring is a very exciting time. So, many things are happening.

Spring begins on March 19, 20 or 21 with the equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The equinox is when day and night are of equal length. During the equinox the sun is directly above the Earth’s equator. The Spring Equinox is sometimes called the Vernal Equinox. Vernal means spring. 

In the Southern Hemisphere the seasons are reversed. And spring begins with the equinox on September 22 or 23.

Seasons, Equinoxes, Solstices, and Cross-Quarter Days Explained

In North America, spring moves one hundred miles north each week. In three months it moves up from the southern tip of Florida, Texas and California to the northern edges of Maine and Washington state. 

In the mountainous areas, spring advances swiftly through valleys and climbing higher and higher up the mountains with each passing day. see Spring Starts from the Ground Up

Rain flows heavily in spring and vernal pools fill. Vernal pools are temporary swallow ponds which fill with water after snow melts in the spring. They are the breeding and feeding grounds for amphibians and insects. Vernal pools are where you may find spring peepers and wood frogs. 

As spring moves along, the days lengthen as the sun stays longer in the sky.

A close up of the inside of a magnolia bud. Photo by Donna L. Long.



Plants in Spring

Nature in spring is about reproduction. In late winter and early spring tree buds swell and bloom. The tree blossoms are by pollinated insects and the wind. A flower structure invites pollination by spring breezes or bumblebees. See Early Spring Native Plants for Bumblebees and  Pollinator Syndromes: How to Predict Which Flowers Insects Will Like

Plants bloom in a orderly sequence year after year. The earliest plants catch the early pollinators of insects and wind. The early bloomers are bulbs such as Canada Mayflower, irises, and lilies. Early blooming trees include redbuds, magnolias, Norway maples, and rhododendrons. Early blooming flowers include bleeding hearts, violets, and spring beauties.

Spring is a great time to start keeping a chart of the blooming sequence of the plants, trees and shrubs in your area. Phenology is observing the relationship between climate and the life cycles of plants and animals. And now is a good time to begin or continue observing those relationships.

See A Backyard Habitat Garden: What You Need to Start One.

Why Are the First Flowers of Spring often White or Yellow? 

Spring Blooming Native Plants of Philadelphia 

Attracting Birds with Fruit Trees or Berry Plants 

magnolia stamens and anthers
The reproductive parts of a magnolia blossom. Photo by Donna L. Long

Animals in Spring

For animals, this season is a time of emergence and migration. Insects and hibernators emerge from their winter sleeping places. Insects emerge in sequence as the temperature and weather conditions warm up.

Bees and bee mimics fly through the air to pollinate trees, shrubs and native flowers. Early spring butterflies emerge after overwintering in tree crevices, as adults, eggs, larva, or cocoons. Mourning Cloak butterflies emerge in the still cold early spring.

Salamanders, toads and frogs emerge from hibernation. Frogs sing their mating songs.

Young mammals migrate to establish their own home territories. This prevents overcrowding in ecosystems. Young animals that are inexperienced at crossing roads often end up as roadkill.

Bee or Fly? 

Insects Head, Thorax, and Abdomen – Drawing to Learn


Birds in Spring

Birds migrate north and use flyways they may have used in the autumn to go south. Birds stake out their breeding, nesting and feeding territories so they may raise their young. The air is filled with birdsong. See Spring BIrd Migration for Beginning Birders 

Spring Warblers: Birding Tips and Techniques 

The Dawn Chorus

Hummingbird Migration Dates

Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and Pollinators

Spring Blooming Flowers to Attract Hummingbirds

Attracting Colorful American Goldfinches is Easy



magnolia bud close up

The Night Sky in Spring

The seasons are created by the rotation of the Earth around the Sun and the tilt of the Earth toward the Sun. all year around the same star constellations can be seen in the sky. These are the circumpolar stars. The constellations that are not circumpolar follow a seasonal path just like the Earth. The constellation highlights of the night sky include the Big Dipper, Virgo, Leo and Cancer.


magnolia bud and petals
Buds and petals of magnolia blossom. Photo by Donna L. Long.

The Spring Nature Journal

Nature in spring bursts with life and activity. It is a time of birth, rebirth and renewal. Forest and field turn from brown to green. It is a good and busy season for nature study. Keeping a spring nature journal a great way to keep track of all the things that are taking place. There are some many spring nature journal prompts and activities for this busiest of seasons.

Thoreau’s Style of Keeping a Nature Journal



More Spring Posts About Nature in Spring

Photographing Butterflies 

Water in Your Backyard Habitat

Places to Raise Young Creating Yor Backyard Habitat

Cover: Providing Shelter in Your Backyard Habitat

Seasonal Rounds: Charting Living in Harmony with the Land


Citizen Science Projects for Spring

Find spring oriented citizen science projects at – the study of phenology

Journey North – – mapping migrations across the North American continent. – track status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds, including when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive.


We're Listening

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.