March 18, 2009
By Susan Benson,CNHM Director of Education
Will spring please come? If we ask very nicely, would it consider showing its face? Could we ask for above zero temperatures at night? These might be the thoughts many of us are sharing right now. As we enter the week of the spring equinox, there is truly cause for much celebration, so break out the bubbly, hiking boots, and binoculars. There are many events in the next two weeks that could occur that should cheer us with thoughts of spring.
Maple sap flows when daily temperatures reach above forty degrees Fahrenheit.
Wood frogs begin calling and breeding the first day and night we have over fifty degrees Fahrenheit.
The first robins are usually seen in the last two weeks of March! Along with this come the first red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves, cardinals, American kestrels, common grackles, Canada geese, herring gulls, great blue herons, wood ducks, hooded mergansers, killdeers, mallards, song sparrows and other bird species. Bald eagle and sandhill crane migration has already begun. Tom turkeys begin gobbling. The American woodcock performs its first peent. Eastern phoebes can begin arriving around our houses. First bird nest making can be observed.
Pussy willows begin to bloom (although a Museum member brought in blooming willows this year on February 17!) Skunk cabbage can begin poking itself through the snow. The first crocus can bloom.
First chipmunks emerge from hibernation. The first garter and red-bellied snakes can warm up enough to be seen as well. Indications that skunks have left their den are apparent through the smells in the air.
Snow fleas can be seen more often, peppering the snow around the base of trees.
The first butterflies can be seen flitting about in the sunlight.
The Madeline Island Ferry in Bayfield sometimes has their first open water day in March.
The first thunderstorm could arrive this month.
I’m saving my favorite for last – the first bike ride. We have already had our first 45 degree or better days, which is, as some may recall from last fall, my minimum temperature allowance for my own bike rides. I vow to get out and ride my bike by this month’s end, and hope readers will consider doing the same!
How do I know all this? The Museum’s substantial phonological database is great evidence of these events happening year after year. If you have an exciting phenological observation you would like to share, please Email the Museum at email@example.com. Please be sure to include information about the observation, date, and location for our records.
Nature Watch is brought to you by the Cable Natural History Museum. For 40 years, the Museum has served as a guide and mentor to generations of visitors and residents interested in learning to better appreciate and care for the extraordinary natural resources of the region. The Museum invites you to visit its facility in Cable at 13470 County Highway M or on the web at www.cablemuseum.org to learn more about exhibits and programs.