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Natural Events

March:

  • Beginning in March, the alternating pattern of freezing nights and sunny thawing days cause sap to rise in sugar maple trees.  Red squirrels know the sugar maple’s sweet secret…look for their teeth marks in the bark.
  • During the second week of March, migratory birds are returning.  Look for Canada geese, blackbirds, bluebirds, robins, flickers, phoebes, and the many species of raptors that fill the skies.
  • During the third week of March, take some time at dusk to watch the unusual and entertaining evening courtship ritual of the woodcock.  The nasal “peeeent” call of the woodcock accompanies their dramatic display.
  • The warm rains bring out thousands of amphibians.  Spotted salamanders, wood frogs, spring peepers, green frogs, and American toads all migrate from the thawing forest soil to their watery birth places to breed.   

April:

  • Resurfacing reptiles greet the warmth of spring.  Look for painted turtles, garter snakes, and black racers all basking in open sunlight.
  • During the middle of April, millions of shad leave the Atlantic Ocean and return to the Delaware River and other coastal rivers to spawn.  During this amazing migration, the shadbush or downy service berry begins to bloom with masses of white flowers.
  • On warm April days, thousands of hawks, falcons, eagles, and vultures fill the skies.  These raptors ride the thermals of rising warm air as they return from their southern wintering grounds.
  • By the last week in April, the spring ephemerals are growing out of the thawing ground.  These colorful woodland flowers include hepatica, trailing arbutus, bloodroot, spring beauty, trout lily, Dutchman’s breeches, red trillium, and over a dozen species of violets.

May:

  • Look for gypsy moth caterpillars, tent caterpillars, Swallowtail butterflies, and Luna moths.  The caterpillars hatch just in time to feed on the fresh new tree and shrub foliage. 
  • Insects are also back in full force and the hungry songbirds returning from their wintering grounds eat them up.  These tropical migrants fill the air with their melodic calls. 
  • The beaches of Delaware Bay are taken over by thousands of horseshoe crabs that come ashore to mate and lay eggs.  The eggs provide food for migrating shorebirds.
  • Late breeding amphibians can be heard at the end of May.  Listen for the green frog, gray tree frog, Fowler's toad, and bullfrog.  The gray tree frog and bullfrog both produce exceptionally loud calls.

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 PEEC Events

View our Calendar Page to see programs available at PEEC during the spring season.  

 

Natural Events

December:

  • Animals have many adaptations to survive the winter.  Some, like weasels and snow shoe hares, have white fur to act as camouflage in the snow.  Ruffed grouse bury into deep snow to stay warm.
  • “False hibernators” like skunks, raccoons, and black bears enter into a shallow winter sleep.  They maintain a nearly normal body temperature, but a much reduced metabolism.
  • Our winter resident songbirds adapt by producing up to 50% more feathers.  By fluffing up their feathers, warm air is trapped and helps to keep them warm.  
  • During the last week of December, enjoy the winter solstice.  This cyclical natural event marks the lengthening of the days.  

January:

  • Bald eagles (resident pairs and visitors from up north) congregate near open water.  Visit lakes, rivers, and reservoirs to see them feeding on fish and carrion (carcasses).
  • Pennsylvania is home to more than 8,000 black bears.  The females mate every other year.  During the second week of January, they give birth to 2-5 cubs in their winter dens.
  • Winter is not completely devoid of insect life.  Snow fleas are found in large colonies near the bases of tree trunks and stonefly nymphs live in icy streams.
  • The great horned owl begins nesting in late January.  Known as "flying tigers", these large owls prefer deciduous forests with hemlocks and white pines.

February:

  • Some mammals, like woodchucks and bats, experience true hibernation. Their body temperature drops to near freezing and their heartbeat slows way down, saving vital energy reserves.
  • Many mammals mate in the cold of winter.  Skunks, raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, red foxes, and gray foxes all synchronize the birth of their young with the fresh, available foods of spring.
  • Longer hours of sunlight trigger the winter resident songbirds.  Males begin singing to attract females and stake out their territories. Listen for black-capped chickadees, cardinals, mockingbirds, and finches. 
  • During the last week in February, the first and slinkiest flower of the spring breaks through the frozen ground. Skunk cabbage melts its way up through the ice and snow by producing its own heat (up to 72º F).

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PEEC Events

View our Calendar Page to see programs available at PEEC during the winter season.

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