| By Deb Yandala, CEO |
March 20 marked the first day of spring! While all seasons are delightful in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, early spring is especially magical. After a cold, snowy winter like we’ve had this year, there’s something particularly special about seeing the first green shoots appear, hearing the spring peepers, and watching the birds return.
Here are a few of my favorite signs of spring in CVNP:
Spring peepers are tiny chorus frogs, distinguished by a dark “X” shape on their backs. Listen for their calls just south of Beaver Marsh or along Brandywine Gorge Trail. (Photo: U.S. Geological Survey)
What can be more reassuring about the promise of warmth ahead than hearing the spring peepers? Spring peepers are small chorus frogs whose calls sound like sleigh bells. Come to the park just to hear their beautiful chorus!
Students at the Education Center may spot salamanders making their way to vernal mating pools.
The salamanders have made their annual migration to spring mating pools—another sign of spring. At the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center, we’ve put up the “amphibian crossing” sign so incoming school buses filled with children know to slow down and pay attention.
Turkey vultures began returning to the skies over CVNP earlier this month. (Photo: Rick McMeechan)
I was a naturalist early in my career, and I find that my “inner nature nerd” rises to the top as I walk on the trails of CVNP in March. In particular, I like to listen for the return of the redwing blackbirds—or look overhead for soaring turkey vultures.
An American woodcock is well-camouflaged in its grassy habitat (Photo: guizmo_68, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
If you haven’t witnessed the mating ritual of the American Woodcock, you need to put that on your bucket list! Their high, spiraling flight to impress their mates is quite a show and can be seen in the fields of CVNP in early April. The best viewing spots are in the thicket meadows along the Buckeye Trail just south of Jaite, and on the Towpath where it intersects with the Ira Trailhead connector.
Some people say March is a boring, muddy month. Those people haven’t figured out what we park and nature lovers know: This is a magnificent time to be outside.