SPRING -- March 19 - March 31


March 19 -- Snow is melting across the prairie, revealing the secret subnivean world that has been hidden all winter. Take a walk, go off trail, and search for evidence of life under the snow. Some possibilities include: chewed holes in grass and tunnels, little piles of corn kernels, fresh gopher mounds, and snow mold.

March 20 -- Local Canada geese are dispersing in pairs to area wetlands and establishing nesting territories. Visit a wetland nearby and count how many goose pairs you can find. Listen for goose music in the air after the quiet peacefulness of winter, a certain sign of spring!

March 21 --Now is the ideal time to take a local road trip to the North Ottawa Impoundment in northern Grant County. Thousands of tundra swans, snow geese, Ross's geese, greater white-fronted geese, Canada geese (including cacklers), mallards, northern pintail, and other birds are briefly stopping over on their way north. Bring binoculars if you have them to enhance the viewing of this living kaleidoscope as you witness first-hand the spectacular phenomenon of waterfowl migration.

March 22 -- Play I Spy, with my little eye, outside. What catches your eye? Take turns sharing with another person. Did you find something you've never noticed before? P.S. You don't have to know the name of what you spy to play this game.

March 23 -- Search for springtails! You may think it's just specks of dirt at first. Get nose-to-nose to find these tiny black insects that crawl on the snow surface, disappearing and reappearing in the blink of an eye. Look for them on snowy paths and near wetlands.

March 24 --  Remember to look up when you go outside.  A river of life is forming in the sky, flowing north.  Besides waterfowl, watch for birds of prey like red-tailed hawks soaring in circles or perched on posts.  Scan phone wires along highways and you're likely to notice an American kestrel perching and searching for a mouse to eat.  

March 25 -- Killdeer are beginning to migrate overhead.  Do you hear them?  They call out their name, "kill deer!  Kill deer! Deer - deer - deer."  This shorebird does not kill deer, however.  Some northern killdeer overwinter in Mexico, leap-frogging over resident killdeer in the southern United States as they travel back to the prairie.  

March 26 -- Listen for red-winged blackbirds. Males are returning now to a wetland near you. They sing "wait-for-MEEE!" from a tall cattail and show off their red shoulders to claim their territory. Each male needs his own space so when the females arrive later, they can choose their mate and home. How many red-wings can you find today?

March 27 -- Skunks appear during winter thaws and early in spring scavenging for food, even an old rabbit gut pile! Not many things can or will eat a skunk, except the mighty great horned owl -- it's large enough and cannot smell the spray. Have you smelled a skunk yet?

March 28 --  Time to clean out bird boxes. This is the perfect time to remove old nests, make any needed repairs, and get ready for the next generation of wood ducks, eastern bluebirds, tree swallows, and other cavity nesters. For more tips on monitoring your boxes, visit web sites for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's web site, Nest Watch and the North American Bluebird Society. Thank you for making a difference for wildlife!

March 29 -- Scoot up to the edge of a wetland and peek at the muskrats! They hang out on the ice near water openings, sunning themselves and eating.  Here's a neat trick -- muskrats can close their lips behind their incisors so they can safely chew their food underwater.  Muskrats eat cattails and other wetland plants. They eat meat, too, like clams, snails, and crayfish. Can you see what they're eating today?

March 30 -- Lay on your back on the soft grass. Look up at the sky. It's so peaceful and relaxing. Let your focus adjust. There is a river of life flowing north. Sometimes flocks, other times, individuals. You might see killdeer, hawks, eagles, pelicans, ducks, geese, gulls, and more.  Migration is moving forward, bringing new species each day.

March 31 -- Search for snow mold next to melting snow. It looks like a cobweb at first. Upon closer inspection, you can see its network pattern. Snow mold flourishes in dampness and cool air temperatures above freezing to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It grows on plants under snow, in what was the subnivean zone. Minnesota snow molds can be pink, grey, or white. Which color is yours?