Phenology: Early Spring Has Come!

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Early spring… Phenological news materials are coming one after another. It is the third week of March and it is significantly warm in the afternoon and frosty at night. The Sun is tender, snow is melting and willow turns silver in the creeks. Snow in March smells with spring. It’s time for the birds to start building nests. Melt-water shines in the Sun. Spring winds are coming. Thaw holes becoming larger and rooks – the heralds of spring – tell everyone about the changes.

Russian nature is great to admire in any season, but early spring is special. This period combines cold colors of winter and tender smells of spring, views of reviving fields and a flight of lark high in the sky. The bird is not easy to spot, but its song is so beautiful and changing, that one will look up and find it. Delightful sounds!

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Snow gradually melts near the warm trees. Maple trees and birch fill with life force – the cells start to receive the sugary juice. Trees only feel the spring energy, but birds and animals have already started the season! Woodpeckers make tree hollows. During sap flow period they like to feed on maple and birch juices. Black cocks and heather cock have an important time – in March they have their first lek.

Many wintering birds have new notes in their songs. In winter buntings are very timid, but now they are marvelous singers. There is a Russian proverb about this bird, which can be translated as “a bunting comes and sings: “leave the sledge, take a cart””. Woodpecker is also a sign of spring, especially when the bird stays on dry pines and the sound of the bird knocking on the wood floats above the forest.

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After rooks come starlings, chaffinches and wild ducks. More then 150 species will soon come after wintering. In March we see only westerly birds, but bird caravans will come in April. The birds, which winter in the reserve, started to prepare to move to taiga – such as crossbill, bullfinch and waxwing. They retreat, like winter does.

Many years of monitoring shows, that early spring is worse, then late one. Early spring turns to be very long with periods of warmth and cold spells. People say “Late spring won’t lie”. And still, early spring is so welcomed after our long cold winter, as it brings joy to mouse and man.

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