Nature & Wildlife

 - Parc Angrignon - 2017-04-09
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) - Parc Angrignon

First Signs of Spring in 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.

Last changed on 2024-03-18

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.

In 2024, the first time I heard the Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) call was on Mar 2! A fluke or the norm from 2024 forward?

The First Flowers

Boisé Des Douze - Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)

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.

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.

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.

Species Location Date
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 Species Identification and Logs for more information about data collection.