March is a time of change. Though the weather can be unpredictable, and the winter chill still creeps from time to time, everyone can feel spring is on the way. It’s not only us. Animals and plants are picking up on the changes, too—the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, which inspires all of nature to start moving again. Here are the top five things that are happening in nature in March.
Eagles are early birds; they start repairing or building their nest as early as October and hatchlings arrive on the scene in March. It pays to start early. Eagles and other birds of prey must learn the skills of hunting, which takes time. Bald eagle populations in Kentucky have made an impressive comeback. Pay attention to the news for the latest numbers as Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife begin to survey eagle nests in March. For a view inside a real eagles nest click here.
2. Spring Ephemerals
It might be early, but you don’t want to miss one of nature’s greatest displays – spring ephemerals. It’s all about timing for these woodland flowers, and it feels like spring is going to come early this year. Spring ephemerals take advantage of a rare condition in the forest when the ground is warming up but there is still ample sunlight on the forest floor because trees are still bare. They quickly bloom, produce seed and die back to their underground parts as if they were never there, which is why you should hit the trails in March just to be safe. Check out the Moss Gibbs Woodland Garden in Broad Run Park, as well as other woodland trails throughout March and April. You never know what blooms you will find!
“Trout Lily on Black Willow Trail” by Olivia Wagner
3. Spring Peepers
The ultimate sound of spring is an ear-splitting whistle coming from a frog the size of a paperclip. Spring Peepers don’t dig below the frost line to hibernate. Instead they allow most of their body to freeze during winter, which allows them to be the first on the scene when the weather warms up. Go around any marshy, wetland area, and you will likely hear their high-pitched mating call that tells you spring is here.
"Spring Peeper 2" by Keith T. Robinson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
4. Early Herps
Salamanders and some frogs are on the move this time of year. They are nocturnal migrators, moving from their winter nesting grounds to their breeding area at night. It’s all about timing as they rely on vernal pools to breed and raise young. Vernal pools are seasonal pools of water that are usually devoid of fish. The pools provide the perfect habitat for raising young with few predators, but they dry up quick and have a lot of competition. It’s important to be first, especially if it takes a while for your young to develop. You can find vernal pools all over The Parklands, but tread lightly and do not try to handle these herps. They are in a delicate state.
"Baby Spotted Salamanders" by Distant Hill Gardens is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
5. Spring Equinox
The Spring Equinox for 2020 falls on March 19th and marks the beginning of spring. It is the day the sun crosses the celestial equator, an imaginary line in the sky above the earth’s equator. Spring and Fall Equinoxes are the only two times a year that the sun rises due east and sets due west, so it might be a good day to get lost in the park!
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