Nature Notes – Spring 2021

Spring is Upon Us!

By Jill McDonald
Winter Aconite shows off in the sunshine, March 2021, Photo by Jill McDonald

At last the season of spring has sprung! According to, spring officially began today, March 20th at 5:37am EDT!

According to astronomers, the seasonal dates on our calendars are based on the position of the Earth in relation to the sun. These dates therefore fluctuate slightly each year and are considered astronomical seasons. On the other hand, meteorologists observe seasons based on the annual temperature cycle, grouped into three-month increments. March 1st is always the first day of meteorological spring.

Whichever date you choose to celebrate the beginning of spring, joyful signs of the season can be found everywhere in the great outdoors! If you open your mind and your senses to the nature that surrounds you, you may begin to truly appreciate the simple things that often go unnoticed.

Here’s sharing seven subtle signs of spring: 

* Flowers galore – A sure sign of spring and sight to behold are the vast array of flowers, in all their many shapes, sizes, colors, and aromas! Winter aconite and snowdrops have already started the season, but don’t miss the ever-popular crocuses. Be sure to get out weekly to enjoy ever-changing floral displays!

* Tiny green foliage and buds – Look closely at garden beds for fresh green baby plants, especially as they just start to emerge from the soil. As they grow, notice the different shapes of the leaves and their textures. Such a joy!

* Variety of bird songs – Listen closely and count how many different songs you can distinguish. Perhaps grab a pair of binoculars and follow the sound to discover the bird that is gracing your presence.

* Trumpeting call of sandhill cranes – Way high in the sky, try to tune into the very faint distant trumpeting call of this unique bird. As they migrate north and ride the air currents, flocks can often be heard before they are seen.

* Turkey vultures return – Caretakers of the Earth is how I see these scavenger creatures. Their arrival in spring is a sure sign of temperatures warming, as they rely on a plentiful diet of carrion. These birds can often be seen in groups silently gliding on the air currents.

* Small mammals awaken – Such a cute joy are baby animals, at least in my opinion. Their awakening from winter though is bittersweet, as I often first see them in a way I’d rather not. These creatures often accidentally fall victim as they cross the road. Help them out and be alert of their presence as you drive, especially at night.

* Frogs and toads begin calling – Last but not least, listen closely, especially in the evening, as the temperature warms. The various frogs and toads in our area typically come out of hibernation and begin calling when certain air temperatures are reached. The first to look forward to is our smallest frog, the spring peeper, which begins its peeping calls when it’s 45 degrees.

By simply taking a few minutes here and there, and tuning into your senses, you too can tap into the peace and beauty of the season! Happy spring!

Crocus in Bloom, March 2021, Photo by Jill McDonald

For more information on bird ID, check out Cornell University’s website  

Jill K. McDonald is a freelance nature and travel educator, writer, photographer, and speaker. She can be reached by email at or connect with her on Facebook at: Nature Traveler – Jill McDonald.

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