Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County
Spring officially begins on Monday, March 20th @ 4:25 CT. As we venture into Spring, I’d like to point out a few things that you should begin observing. First of all, you’ll start to see the furry, light-gray flowers of pussy willows as they emerge from their buds.
Black bears will begin emerging from their winter dens and begin looking for food. I know our bird feeders usually get knocked down and emptied in the spring. Bears have excellent memories, so if you live in an area with bears, take down your feeders before they get destroyed.
The Full Moon for March has already come and gone on March 7th. The next one will be on Thursday, April 6th.
Several moth species overwinter as caterpillars, including the Woolly Bear Caterpillar of the Isabella Tiger Moth. When weather warms in Spring, they can be found crawling up sticks and last years’ stems looking for a good place to pupate and metamorphose.
Skunk cabbages will start emerging in the first part of March. Their unpleasant odor attracts pollinators such as flies and beetles. Along with Skunk cabbages, Skunks will start emerging and I’ve already spotted a few out foraging for food.
Silver, red and sugar maples will start flowering about the second week of March. Maple flowers are wind pollinated and have no petals, but they’re still beautiful.
Woodcock will be seen doing their mating dances about the middle of March. Once the snow melts back in open fields, they can be heard around sunset.
Along with the Woodcock, you can listen for the distinctive quacking of Wood Frogs in the evening as they gather in the spring pools. They’re usually the first amphibians to emerge in Spring and often congregate in pools that may still be partially covered in ice.
The first warm (40ºF), rainy night brings out the salamanders as they migrate from winter burrows to the spring ponds to mate. They’ll spend a little time at the pools and ponds before heading back to the upland woods.
Around March 24th, the beaver that have been eating sticks that they stored underwater last fall, will come out of their dens to eat green plants including water lilies and skunk cabbage.
During the last week of March, the tom turkeys will begin gobbling and showing off for the females. Look around for the hens who are usually nearby.
At the end of March, gray foxes are giving birth, usually with 1-4 pups in a litter. The pups will stay in the den for about another month, and by the time they are three months old, they’ll learn to hunt on their own. If you spot a fox in a tree, it’s a gray fox. Red fox don’t climb trees.
Finally, during March the Bald Eagles will return to their nests. I’ve been monitoring the Lake Metonga Eagle Cam and I’m happy to report we have two eggs that Mom and Dad have been busy incubating.