Monday, April 18, 2011

Signs of Spring

Some years, spring can seem a long time coming in Idaho. The overcast days seem to linger a bit too long into the season.

Still, already some of spring's natural wonders are apparent:

On a hike into the foothills last week, horned larks were everywhere. These birds are in decline in many grassland areas, but they are still pretty easy to find around Idaho. They're a cool-looking bird, and well worth seeking out. Western meadowlarks were also calling in every direction, but I couldn't find the long-billed curlews yet.

Sandhill cranes have returned to Silver Creek Preserve, as have many other migratory birds. Check wetlands around the state and you'll likely find many duck species, grebes and even swans.

Raptors are very active and can often be seen hunting, building nests and interacting with each other. You can see some amazing bird behavior, particularly around the Snake River Canyon.

Yellow-bellied marmots are out sunning themselves on rocks. This relative of the more-famous groundhog actually is only out and about for a short period each year. Come the summer's heat, and marmots will be back underground--likely until next spring.

Soon, foothills will be painted gold with arrowleaf balsamroot (pictured above), the first of many great wildflower displays around Idaho. (And later in the season, join us at Silver Creek and Flat Ranch Preserve for wildflower walks).

Across the state, wildlife is more active and visible and plants are beginning to bloom. Even if it's a bit gray and overcast, head outside and enjoy our beautiful state.

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