The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and spring is finally near.
This is such a great time to get outside and explore. There is so much going on, living things are returning, waking up or just coming to life for the very first time! Head outside with a camera and a notebook and keep a record of all that you see and hear. Or you can print out scavenger hunt at the bottom of page.
Many birds that left for warmer weather are returning. Spring is the season birds sing most often. The first to return is usually the red-winged blackbird. The male is all black with bright red and yellow stripe on its wing. They have a very distinct call (click here to listen to it).
Can you imitate the sounds? What other bird calls or songs can you hear?
Listen for the birds in the background of this video:
Birds are not the only ones who sing; spring is a great time to listen for frogs! Male frogs are heading to their breeding grounds to look for a mate. Some species may meet in large groups and the sound can be amazingly loud! Spring peepers, chorus frogs and bullfrogs are a few you may hear. Listen to the calls of many of our local residents (click here to listen).
Can you imitate these calls? Can you hear them outside?
Trees are waking up; some will emerge with flowers or catkins (catkins are hanging clusters of tiny flowers). Other trees will start forming leaves first. But before the leaves are full and bring shade to the forest floor, all of the beautiful spring flowers will get their turn to shine! Look on the ground for a cotyledon (kot – l – eed – n). A cotyledon is the first leaf or leaves to emerge from a seed. Try and find a cotyledon close to your home, and then keep retuning to the same spot so you can see how it changes and grows.
Some bugs spent the winter as adults; this includes some beetles, honey bees and the mourning cloak butterfly. Because the mourning cloak butterfly hibernates as an adult (usually behind the bark of trees or under rocks on the ground), it is the first butterfly of spring. It is about the size of a monarch butterfly and has a yellow border around the edge of its wings with a row of blue spots located just outside the frame of the border. Many bugs overwinter as larva or nymphs (nymphs are the immature insects that do not go through complete metamorphosis like larva). Most spent winter doing the bug version of hibernation.
Some, like the dragonfly nymph stayed active, eating and growing at the bottom of a pond or riverbed. In the spring, the larva becomes active again, eating and eating until their transformation to an adult. The dragonfly nymph may be ready to crawl to shore and then emerge as an adult dragonfly.
There are so many different bugs to observe in the springtime. What bugs do you see? What are they doing? A variety of exciting activity is happening this time of year! Get outside and be a part of it! Take photos, keep a journal or print this scavenger hunt and bring it along to check off things you see and hear.