With the beautiful weather and the current situation, the urge to go exploring outside is stronger than ever. Here are the top five things happening in nature you can look forward to in April:
1. Reptilian Awakenings
It is finally turtle season! Aquatic turtles are basking on logs and on cut banks. Box turtles are sleepily digging their way out of their hibernaculum. I highly recommend a paddling trip down Floyds Fork to see aquatic turtles up close. As for the box turtles, wait for a rainy day with mild weather and go for a hike in the forest. You may just find one waking up. With turtle season upon us, this means we must take extra precaution on the road. Look for turtle crossings, and try to help them get to the other side, if possible. One of the main causes of death for box turtles are accidents on the roads.
2. Dawn Chorus
April is a great month for bird watching! The dawn chorus sounds beautiful this time of year as newcomers add diversity and strength to the song. The dawn chorus occurs right when the sun rises and is most noticeable right now when birds are defending their territories, finding mates, or calling in the flock. The best part about this, is that you don’t have to go far to experience it. Open a window during sunrise and listen.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds, the most common in the state, start arriving early to mid- April. If you want to see these tiny beauties now is a good time to put out your feeders. If you want to track these hummingbirds a little closer, head on over to https://maps.journeynorth.org/maps and find the 2020 migrating map for hummingbirds. You can even join in on the fun by adding your own observations.
4. Earth Day
Earth Day is April 22, and it’s a big party for the planet! In 1970 Americans unified in response to the environmental crisis happening all over the world. Their protests are credited with launching the modern-day environmental movement and a lot of landmark environmental laws like the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. So, go outside, plant a tree, pick up litter and look for other local events to celebrate the earth!
5. Tree Blooms
Although magnolias, cherry trees and forsythia have been the stars of the show, look out for other tree and shrub early blooms. Among these are redbud, Pawpaw, Dogwood, spicebush, tulip poplar, honey locust, serviceberry and many others. All of the ones I listed are natives and can be found in The Parklands. Go on a hike to spot some of these beauties, but be sure to bring the allergy medicine along.
A safety note….
Another plant that is popping up this time of year is poison hemlock. It can look enticing, as it is one of the first “green things” to reappear in the forest. Beware of this plant, as it is highly poisonous when ingested. Some might even get a rash when touching it, so it is best to stay away from it entirely. Right now, it is growing low to the ground and might look like a carrot top or parsley. If you take a closer look, many times it will have a purple spotted stem. Please watch your step and your children on the trails, and please remember not to pick any plants!
Olivia started working at The Parklands as an Interpretive Ranger in 2018. She graduated with a degree in outdoor recreation and environmental studies from Central Michigan University where she played field hockey for four years. She worked for an outdoor therapy company in Wisconsin before returning home to Louisville to begin her position at The Parklands. Her favorite things about her job are helping kids explore the creek and getting to experience the joy and wonder of the kids when they get comfortable with nature. In her free time, she enjoys, hiking, paddling, plants, spending time with her family, and playing with her dogs.