Spring: a season of renewal. The days become longer and our sunshine warmer. It’s the time of year we get to watch the world around us burst back to life. Schlitz Audubon is an incredible place to appreciate the wonders of spring. Walk along our boardwalks through the prairie to see last year’s grass flattened by snow. Look closely, however, and you’ll see the tiny and impossibly green new shoots of big bluestem reaching toward the sky.
Spring Wildlife at Our Ponds
Wind your way to one of our many ponds and listen closely for the chirp of spring peepers calling from the vernal pools at a pond’s edge. The spring peeper is a sure sign of the season’s arrival. Enjoy watching the painted turtles bask on logs with their legs stretched out to catch every last ray that the sun offers. While the turtles bask, listen for the ruckus call of the Red-winged Blackbird as it weaves a nest hidden in the cattails, just above the water’s surface.
Notice the lily pads re-emerging from the water, ready to unfurl and reveal their angelic white flower and golden center. As you continue past the ponds, look for skunk cabbage in the surrounding low-lying wet areas. With its unique flower emerging from the wet black soil, you’ll know you’ve gotten too close when the smell of skunk is thick in the air.
Warblers at the Center
Bring your binoculars along if you wish to see some of our avian friends passing through. Watch as a Yellow-rumped Warbler bounces between aspen branches, attempting to find food on its journey to its breeding grounds further north. Then listen for a Black-throated Green Warbler singing from the canopy top. Warbler species can be quick and elusive, but with some patience and a keen eye you are sure to spot these gems of spring.
As you continue into the forest, look for one of our earliest wildflowers, bloodroot. Its deeply lobed leaf and showy white flower are sure to grab your attention. Or perhaps you notice the sides of the trail are riddled with a nodding purple to almost blue flower. These Virginia bluebells are a sight welcomed by our hungry pollinators, as they are a favorite for our bees.
More Spring Bird Visitors
Hike back toward Mystery Lake to check and see how this year’s generation of Canada Geese are doing. Look toward the island to see if any geese are on their nest. Wander the Western Meadows to get a glimpse of the Eastern Bluebird perched on top of its man-made bluebird nesting box, singing loud to keep competitors away.
A trip to the Center wouldn’t be complete without spending time on our gorgeous Lake Michigan shoreline. The warmth of spring loosens the ice to reveal the sand and rocks still there, waiting for you to pick through them as you search for fossils and beach glass. Spring is a special time everywhere. A time to celebrate the renewal of life and warmth. Come see what makes it special here at Schlitz Audubon and celebrate with us.