Signs of spring are hard to miss

Signs of spring are hard to miss. Many colors of new growth begin replacing the muted greys and browns of yards and forests.

Violets and spring beauties dot greening lawns with purple, pink and white flowers. The white blossoms of service berry and dogwood, and the deep pinks of redbud trees add color to blue skies.

Woodland wildflowers such as Dutchman’s breeches, bloodroot and may apples bloom on the forest floor, while overhead, elms and maples sprout small blossoms and new, lime-green leaves.

Mourning cloak butterflies, which overwintered in tree cavities, are emerging now. Their rippling flight adds grace and color to the landscape. Bees, moths and wasps help usher in the season by pollinating many of the first spring wildflowers.

Migratory birds join the year-round residents. They feast on the emerging insect life and fill the air with their songs of courtship.

At twilight, bats appear. In flight, they beat their wings continually. With erratic dodging, and short, soaring sweeps, they pursue insects.

On warm nights, at shallow ponds and roadside ditches, spring peeper frogs call mates with clear, bird-like, “peeps.” The sustained, musical trills of American toads add to the chorus.

Springing serviceberry

• The flowering of the downy serviceberry is one of springtime’s main attractions.

• A serviceberry looks like a shrub or small tree with a narrow rounded crown.

• Its bark is light gray and smooth when young, turning to dark gray and shallow grooves with long ridges as it ages.

• The serviceberry usually flowers from March to May, often before leaves emerge. Its flowers have white petals.

• The serviceberry usually fruits in June and July, producing reddish-purple berries.

• Serviceberry trees usually grow to be 40 feet tall.

By Peg Craft

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