In the fall, earthworms dig deeper into the earth to spend the winter below the frostline. When spring arrives and the ground is no longer frozen, earthworms head to the surface again, generally when the average ground temperature reaches 36 degrees. The earthworms' journey to the outside world coincides with the robins return in the spring. Robins love to eat worms after their long migration.
Spring peepers are small frogs that are less than 1 ¼ inches long, but with big voices. When spring arrives in the Northeast, generally around March, spring peepers are one of the first frog species to start calling. One peeper alone sounds like a high-pitched whistle. When many peepers are calling together, the sound can resemble jingle bells.
In late winter, before the leaves start to grow on the trees, maple tree sap starts to flow. The sweet sap flows up and down the tree when daytime temperatures are above freezing and nights are still below freezing. You can make maple syrup by boiling away most of the water in the sap.
When we think of the arrival of spring, American robins frequently come to mind. Their early morning song is heard throughout residential neighborhoods. Robins prefer fruit, but feed on worms and insects as well. Every spring, robins collect grasses and twigs to build their nests, usually in a conifer tree or deciduous tree.
Ice melting from lakes, rivers and ponds is another way to measure spring's arrival. The "ice out" is official after 90 percent of the ice has melted from those bodies of water.
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Sensing Stormy Days
Spring means more than baby animals and new flowers-it also means rain. Animals often eat more before a rain, and sometimes pets act differently before a storm. How do they know what the weather is going to be? Head outside before a rain storm is predicted and look for clues. Flowers such as tulips and dandelions close up. Spiders take down their webs before a heavy rain. You may notice the family dog smelling the air before rain hits. Record your observations in a notebook.
What Time is It?
How do plants and animals know that it is spring? Plants and animals sense changes in temperature, daylight and smells which tell them when to wake up, sleep, eat, hibernate and migrate. Even people have similar internal or biological clocks. Take ten pieces of paper and number them 1 - 10 to represent various times of the day. At different times of the day, have one person ask the others what time it is. The other players guess the time (no peeking at clocks or watches) based on how they are feeling (tired, hungry, restless, etc.) or based on things happening outside or around the house. Each time, the players should write their time estimates on the piece of paper. At the end of the day, see whose "biological clock" was the most accurate.
Check out the signs of spring for yourself during National Wildlife Week, March 15-21. The National Wildlife Federation offers fun hands-on activities for kids and adults alike to help you gear up for spring.
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Bow Hunter Education Youth Conservation Program
Saturday and Sunday, March 14 and 15
Peconic River Sportsman's Club in Manorville
A two-day program for the purpose of introducing 12-16 year olds to the basic principles of conservation, sportsman education and general outdoorsmanship. For more information, call Region One Sportsman Education Office at (631) 444-0255.
Nature Discovery After-School Program-Superb Sugars
Thursday, March 11 and 18 from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Engage in the entire maple sugaring process from sap to syrup, and taste the sweet result. Participants will use all five senses during this class as they watch the crystal-clear sap drip from the tapped trees, smell the sap boiling in the evaporator, touch the rough bark while they twirl a drill and pound a spile and, of course, taste the final product-maple syrup! For school-aged children and their caregivers.
Guided Nature Walk
Saturday, March 13 and 20 at 10:00 AM
Nature slowly starts to wake up this month. Join us as we search for some early signs of spring.
Backyard Maple Sugaring
Saturday, March 13 at 2:00 PM
Discover how to participate in one of New York State's oldest farm and forest traditions. Learn how to recognize and tap sugar maple trees and how to boil their sap down to delicious syrup.
Green Thumb Blues
Saturday, March 20 at 2:00 PM
Defrost those green thumbs with a visit to Stony Kill's greenhouse. Learn about maintaining a greenhouse and how to prepare for spring planting.
Is It Spring?
Friday, March 19 at 7:00 PM
The voices of the season seem to come alive at dusk to proclaim the end of winter. Join us on an outdoor search for geese, peepers, woodcock and other sounds of a spring evening to see whether spring has sprung.
Maple Sugar Open Houses
Saturday and Sunday March 20 and 21 from 1:30 to 3:30 PM
At our Maple Sugar Open Houses, watch sap drip from the tapped trees and smell the syrup boiling in the evaporator. You'll learn to twirl a drill and pound a spile, and you'll use your taste buds to sample maple syrup.
Friday, March 19 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
We will start inside with a short talk about the history and biology of the eastern coyote then continue outside for a walk in the Preserve as we listen for and try to elicit the howls of one of the smartest, most elusive animals in the Pine Bush. Call 518-456-0655 to register. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
Saturday, March 13 at 11:00 AM
Find out how local wildlife species give birth and raise their young. Learn the differences between animals that start out as eggs and those that are live-born and the amount of care different animal babies need.
Search for the Pot-O-Gold
Saturday, March 20 at 10:00 AM
Choose between using a GPS, map and compass, or a rebus (a puzzle with a picture suggesting a phrase) to find the prize. We'll have several trails set up for this family fun! Please call 607-674-4017 to register and for details.
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
After School Escape
Thursday, March 11 and March 18 at 4:30 PM
Enjoy a one-hour program for kids featuring a different, fun, outdoor activity each week. For children in grades K-5. Registration is not required.
Snowy with a Chance of Salamanders
Saturday, March 20 at 10:30 AM
On this first day of spring, we will explore the spring pools and search under logs for spotted salamanders. This is the time of year for them to lay their eggs and a chance to get a rare glimpse of this secretive creature.