Nature Notes: I spy signs of spring

Published 6:11 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2024

By Sydney Weisinger

Teacher/Naturalist

The dark, cold nights are coming to an end as February begins. As a naturalist, I am always outside and looking for the natural changes in nature that signify the changing seasons. Not only are we getting more sunlight every day, but because of this, we are starting to slowly see the signs of spring!

Email newsletter signup

One of my favorite quotes is from Naturalist John Trott from Virgina: “So, the year is turning and moving inexorably toward spring which, once started, moves like a snowball rolling downhill. It gathers momentum and mass until early May when each day brings so much newness that I am impatient and exasperated with my inability to see and hear it all. For now, I’ll concentrate on the slow momentum of February.”.

Now is the perfect time to start a nature journal. There are no rules for a nature journal! Write down what you see that is new/changing, what you love about nature, write it like a story or write down bullet points. So, as you start coming out of your hibernation with the increase of sunlight, here are the things that will be joining you.

• Chickadees are singing “fee-bee” while eating their weight in food each day.

• Early February you can hear woodpeckers drumming on trees and calling. Their call sounds like a crackle.

• Coyotes become more active during mating season.

• Raccoons come out of their winter dens early on warm February days.

• American crows start to migrate north. They winter and travel in flocks. Once they reach their summer homes, they become solitary nesters with their mate.

• Great horned owls are Minnesota’s earliest nesting bird. They will be sitting on eggs by the second week of February.

• Barred owls are hooting at each other in the forest, setting their territories.

• Moss and lichens green up with the humid air and higher sun.

• Tree squirrels are very vocal and are chasing perspective mates through the trees.

• Flocks of horned larks are seen along the roadways as one of the first spring migrants.

• By the end of February, red-tailed hawks start returning to their nesting sites.

• Keep an eye out for the first chipmunk emerging by the end of February.

• If you hear a loud double squawk, it is the sound of a male ring-necked pheasant courting.

•Look out for yellow coming back to male American goldfinches’ feathers.

• White-tailed deer start shedding their winter fur towards the end of February.

Becoming more aware of the little things going on in nature that are signs of spring not only gets you out of your winter slump but also keeps you motivated to continue exploring nature.

Keeping a nature journal is a great activity to do with kids. It works on their observation skills, writing skills, and possibly even art if they choose to draw in their journals. Get out there and start enjoying the weather!

February at the Nature Center

• If we get a snowstorm with at least five inches of snow, we will do pop-up ski lessons and candle-lit ski.

• Interpretive Center closed Monday, Feb. 19.