March brings early signs of spring after a long winter. Here’s some of the signs we are thawing out.
Skunk Cabbage are exotic plants found in marshy areas. They actually get started ‘blooming’ in February. I did a whole post on these plants back in 2013.
Another early wildflower that starts in February are Snowdrops. These are garden plants, but you occasionally find some that have escaped into the wild.
Now, on to March. You may have noted a straggly white wildflower (some call it a weed) called Hairy Bittercress on your lawn. It is an early blooming species brought from Europe.
If you look at your lawn really close, you may see tiny blue or white wildflowers peeking out- these are different species of Speedwell.
By late March, Dandelions are coming out in force along roadways and speckling yards.
Also in late March this year- usually more of an April kind of plant- are Purple Dead-Nettles, which can turn the edges of farm fields a dull purple.
Another early spring flower highlight is the Crocus. These garden plants sometimes escape and is hardy enough to grow in wild areas. I’ve found them growing on park lawns- my guess is that birds pooped out their seeds there.
A March garden favorite is the Daffodil. They can handle the early spring cold quite well.
On to birds. The first thing one notices is that birds are suddenly singing, greeting the winter’s thaw. They may be early, but this is a good sign.
Winter birds start leaving towards their northern breeding grounds by March. Also, some temperate migrant birds (who can handle the colder early spring weather) come up from the south to breed here.
Dark-Eyed Juncos have wintered over in Ohio and places further south and now can be seen moving in greater numbers up to Canada to breed.
White-Throated Sparrows are also moving north to breed. You may hear their ‘Pure Sweet Canada Canada Canada’ whistled song from woods or scrubby areas.
Kinglets also are migrating through Ohio as well. This Golden-Crowned Kinglet is a beautiful bird, smaller than a sparrow but camera-shy (to me, anyway). Here is a post about them from 2012.
Here is a fairly early nester returning to Ohio, a Brown Thrasher. A week ago I heard a couple of these birds singing to claim territory.
You may have noticed that Turkey Vultures return to Ohio in March. They soar overhead searching (by smell) for roadkill and other dead animals to eat.
Eastern Phoebes are perhaps the best-known early nesting perching bird in Ohio. They are flycatchers, but can supplement their diet with seeds when necessary. I posted about them in 2014.
Here is a Phoebe building a nest over a week ago in the Hocking Hills at a vacation house my family was at for spring break. They use moss and mud to build nests under the eaves of man-made buildings.
Forsythia Bushes, with their striking yellow blooms, are out in March as well. Mostly an ornamental bush that you’ll see in yards.
Last but not least, flowering trees bloom starting in March, making the landscape look beautiful. What a cheerful sight!