Whatever it is that gets us thinking “spring” should lift our spirits and nudge us forward in this period of newness. The despair surrounding COVID-19 leaves us numb and sad, but events in nature’s spring tell us of better things to come.

These spring mornings are the best time of year to hear the symphony of bird music. Listen as tree swallows chatter; mourning doves coo; ring-necked pheasants crow; both northern cardinals and black-capped chickadees whistle; common grackles squawk; red-winged blackbirds trill; Canada geese honk; American robins sing “cheer-up, cheer-up;” and woodpeckers drum.

Lawns are greening (despite the snow) and the first mowers are heard. Magnolia and apricot trees bloom with showy flowers. Dandelions and daffodils bloom next to south-facing walls, and next to crocuses out in the open. Weeping willows have an elegant yellow-green glow with their tiny new leaves. Woodland wildflowers such as bloodroot, white trout-lily, and Dutchman’s breeches have flowers.

Brown thrashers, barn swallows and yellow-headed blackbirds first return, and more yellow-rumped warblers and chipping sparrows arrive. Black-capped chickadees, Eastern bluebirds, wood ducks and mallards are nesting.

Southern Minnesota and Wisconsin farmers are busy doing field work, including soil preparation and early planting. Ice continues to melt on central and northern lakes, and open water draws in the common loons and common mergansers.


Jim Gilbert’s observations have been part of the Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendars since 1977, and he is the author of five books on nature in Minnesota. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.