Signs of Spring 12: Warmers Days!

<img alt="an eastern box turtle" src="http://sites.psu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/13190/2013/04/boxturtle4.jpg" width="400" height="333" class="mt-image-left" style="float: left;margin: 0 20px 20px 0">The Worm Moon (the full moon in March) has come and gone. I didn’t see the usual, nighttime, mass emergence of earthworms from their warming soil burrows. Nor did I see the sad array of sluggish, straggler worms in the morning laying half-frozen on the driveway and sidewalks, but, over the past week, I have watched robins more and more frequently snagging nightcrawlers out in the short grass of my field. A quiet, more controlled Worm Moon this year, I guess.

Some of the bird migrants have returned! Lisa Meyerhuber spotted a pair of Baltimore orioles down on the Roaring Run Trail, and red-winged blackbirds have started to visit my bird feeders. The cowbirds are back, too (not all signs of spring are good!). The male goldfinches are getting increasingly yellow, and as I have mentioned in previous postings, the chorus of the morning bird songs is stunning.

Donald Bruckner reported that he heard spring peepers last Sunday, and Kay Balderose heard them at Harrison Hills Park. Deborah and I heard tree frogs trilling yesterday. My guess is that we need one or two more warm days to get our local wetlands charged up with calling peepers. The expected rain tonight should be just the stimulant they need!

Our deer are looking scruffy and unkempt as they shed their winter coats. Last year’s fawns are only slightly smaller than the other individuals in the herd. I can tell the two fawns from the older deer, though, by their stunningly brazen behavior in my front yard. Neither leave the sunflower feeders even when I open the front door, step out on the sidewalk, and yell at them. Only Kozmo charging around (and through) my legs is sufficient to chase them off.  

The crows have been carefully snapping twigs off of our red maple tree and flying off with them into the surrounding woods, and robins and blue jays have been gathering up beaks-full of the straw I had spread on the low, muddy spots in the front yard. Someone has also been collecting the handfuls of dog hair I have tossed in the yard from Kozmo’s regular brushing (he’s losing his winter coat, too), and I am sure that many birds are finding the shed deer hair, too. Such great materials to use in all of the new spring and summer nests!

But, the biggest sign of spring here in southern Armstrong County is right in the corner of my dining room. Spider, my box turtle, has come out of his winter torpor. So far he has eaten four, large strawberries and seven nightcrawlers (he likes sweet with his savory!) and is even starting to thump impatiently on the sides of his terrarium. The sight of the sun coming in the front window is definitely a stimulant for him. On the next warm afternoon I will put him out in his outdoor pen so that he can enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. I may even join him!

Crocuses are blooming, and the daffodils are just starting to show color around my house but are blooming gloriously (as of this morning!) along Route 780 near our campus. Our red and silver maples are in flower (and my eyes are itchy and my nose is running), and the multiflora rose bushes are sprouting leaves. And, the cruelest sign of spring of all, the grass is starting to grow. I actually think that I heard a lawn mower being started up yesterday. We have to take the bad along with the good, I guess.
 
Enjoy the sunshine and warmth! We deserve it!
   

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