First Signs of Spring in Montreal
Last modified on 2023-03-05. This page is dedicated to nature lovers and wildlife photographers. Written and regularly updated by Karl-Heinz Müller Dipl. Natw. ETH, Biology. With 10 years of experience in wildlife photography, Karl-Heinz shares first-hand, on-site collected observations, photos and videos from his frequent visits to parks in and around Montreal.
Living in Montreal, where the winter is long and cold and the winter days short and dark, early signs of the arrival of spring are well received. With the first warm days, there are different species showing up even if weather conditions still strongly remind you of winter.
The First Migratory Birds
There is one species in particular we are looking for in April, announcing warmer temperatures in a few days. This bird species is Red-winged Blackbird, in particular the males, which arrive before the females and almost immediately upon arrival occupy a nesting area and start to defend it rigorously against competitors of the same species and introducers of other species of any size.
- Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) - Earliest tracked 3/31
The First Flowers
There is a well defined schedule of flowers blooming during the early spring days. Starting with Coltsfoot, then Bloodroot, followed by Yellow Trout Lily and Large White Trillium. These flowers show up before the sprouting of leaves of deciduous trees. Coltsfoot appears on dryer ground, frequently along pathways while Bloodroot, Yellow Trout Lily and Large White Trillium form patches within forests taking advantage that sunshine isn't blocked yet by leaves.
- Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) - Earliest tracked 4/14
- Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) - Earliest tracked 4/27
- Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) - Earliest tracked 4/30
- Large White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) - Earliest tracked 5/1
The Sound of Frogs
In particular there are two frog species, each one with a particular call, allowing them to be identified easily. These two frog species are Wood Frog and Spring Peeper. They appear mid April in ponds and can be heard from a distance. The period, these frog species can be heard and seen is very short though. Just a few days mid April.
- Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) - Earliest tracked 4/15
- Video Wood Frog (and Spring Peeper) Calling
Beginning of Spring
End of April, spring still seems far away as no green leaves are showing up and temperatures may still drop below freezing point overnight. Finally, during the first two weeks of May, vegetation growth explodes, the blooming of the first flowers ends and the Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) stops calling and disperses into the forest. Only the Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) continues defending nesting grounds until rearing of the offspring is over.
List of all species seen in April but not in Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar. Listed with location and date of first observation by month/day.
|Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)||Parc Angrignon||04-27|
|Brown creeper (Certhia americana)||Parc Angrignon||04-10|
|Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)||Boisé Des Douze||04-22|
|Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)||Parc de la Frayère||04-14|
|Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)||Parc Nature Pointe aux Prairies||04-15|
|Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)||Dorval||04-14|
|Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)||Parc Bernard-Landry||04-22|
|Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)||Parc Nature Pointe aux Prairies||04-15|
|Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)||Parc Bernard-Landry||04-22|
|Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)||Parc des Rapides||04-15|
|Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)||Parc Bernard-Landry||04-22|
|Double-Crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)||Parc de la Frayère||04-14|
|Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)||Parc Nature Pointe aux Prairies||04-15|
|Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)||Parc Nature Pointe aux Prairies||04-15|
|Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus)||Boisé Des Douze||04-21|
|Gadwall (Anas strepera)||Parc Nature Pointe aux Prairies||04-15|
|Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)||Parc Nature Pointe aux Prairies||04-13|
|Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)||Parc de la Frayère||04-14|
|Great Egret (Ardea alba)||Parc des Rapides||04-17|
|Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)||Parc Bernard-Landry||04-22|
|Groundhog (Marmota monax)||Parc Angrignon||04-30|
|Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus)||Parc Angrignon||04-22|
|Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)||Parc Nature Pointe aux Prairies||04-15|
|Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)||Parc de la Frayère||04-14|
|North American Beaver (Castor canadensis)||Parc des Rapides||04-15|
|Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)||Parc Angrignon||04-22|
|Northern Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica)||Parc des Rapides||04-29|
|Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)||Parc Bernard-Landry||04-22|
|Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)||Parc Angrignon||04-14|
|Raccoon (Procyon lotor)||Jardin Botanique de Montréal||04-01|
|Red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator)||Parc Angrignon||04-17|
|Redosier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)||Parc Bernard-Landry||04-22|
|Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)||Boisé Des Douze||04-21|
|Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)||Parc de la Frayère||04-13|
|Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)||Parc de la Frayère||04-14|
|Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)||Parc Angrignon||04-10|
|White-lipped snail (Cepaea hortensis)||Champ des Possibles||04-13|
|White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)||Parc de la Frayère||04-13|
|Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)||Parc Bernard-Landry||04-10|
|Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus)||Parc Nature Pointe aux Prairies||04-15|
|Woolly Blue Violet (Viola sororia)||Parc Bernard-Landry||04-22|
|Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)||Parc Angrignon||04-30|
|Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)||Parc Mont-Royal||04-12|
The data used for this article has been extracted from journals written on visits in parks in and around Montreal during the last years. See animal and flower tracking for more information about data collection.