The Early Witnesses of the Beginning of Spring
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.
Arrival of 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 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.
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
Beginning of Spring
At this point, spring still seems far away as no green leaves are showing up yet and temperatures may drop below freezing point. But by end of April and during the first two weeks of May, an explosion of vegetation happens, but blooming of the first flowers will end and the frogs will disperse and stop calling. Only the Red-winged Blackbird will continue defending nesting grounds until rearing of the offspring is over.