Mark your calendars… The first day of spring is almost here! This year, the spring equinox will fall on March 20th, and while Carleton students will be away for spring break, the Arboretum will still be here changing into its full springtime glory.
The first flower that you should expect to see on the prairie is called the Pasque flower. It received its name for its early springtime bloom, right around the time of Easter, or Passover. If you are walking in the prai- rie, it might be easy to overlook the Pasque. Only a few inches high, it often grows in little bunches of single stemmed flowers. Its bell shaped petals can range from dark lavender to almost white. While hidden in the prairie grasses, it is certainly well worth looking for.
Fauna life will also bloom as many migratory birds return and hibernating animals once gain become active. We will begin to see large flocks of migrating waterfowl, like geese, mergansers, ducks, and pelicans, most of which will only pass by on their migration routes back north. Other birds, such as the warblers, will come back a little bit later once the trees begin to bud and small insects are available for eating. One such bird is the Yellow-rumped Warbler, characteristic for a small patch of bright yellow on its rump. If you do not have the chance to see one, you very well might hear one. Their four to seven syllable song is said to sound like tyew-tyew-tyew-tyew,tew-tew-tew. Similar to many of the waterfowl, it will only migrate through. But other warblers, like the American Red-start, will stay all summer.
There is a lot to look forward to during spring in the Arboretum. If you have a chance, venture out before the end of the term and at the beginning of next term to see what a difference even a few weeks can make. Also keep a lookout for news on the Spring Annual Bird Count, which will be held on the Saturday of 7th week.