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.
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.
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. The nature calendar has more information on happenings during the spring season.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bees and bee mimics fly through the air to pollinate trees, shrubs and native flowers. Butterflies emerge after overwintering in tree crevices, as adults, eggs, larva, or cocoons. 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.
The Night Sky in Spring
The constellation highlights of the night sky include the Big Dipper, Virgo, Leo and Cancer.
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 nature journal is a great way to keep track of all the things that are taking place.