Flowers are blooming and birds are chirping- spring is definitely here! But why does spring affect wildlife in the way it does? Let’s take a look at the science of spring.
The Earth travels around the sun; a trip that takes approximately 365 days (one year). During the winter solstice, our hemisphere is the farthest that it will be during the entire year. As spring comes, though, our hemisphere moves from being the farthest from the sun and starts to move closer each day as we near summer. As the sun gets closer the days get longer and warmer. For The northern regions this begins the melting of the ice from snowy storms. The melting ice welcomes back migratory animals who fled to the south to stay warm through the winter. Here in Florida we rarely have the same white winters. As spring begins the increased sunlight helps plants to grow as it provides them opportunity to make more food through photosynthesis. Simultaneously, the waters around us warm up and stir as storms become a more frequent occurrence. The wet and warm climate leads way to new life. As plants continue to grow flowers turn to fruit and food for herbivores becomes more abundant. This provides opportunities for new parents to have a great source of food for their young and these young herbivores provide increased food resources for the carnivores. The warm days also help young animals as many can not thermal regulate well on their own early on and the warm sun helps them stay cozy.
How does spring affect humans? As we have more daylight we tend to have much more fun outside. This warm-weather provides opportunities to enjoy the outdoors recreationally this means picnics, fishing, camping, and more. It also means the snowbirds moving back north and welcomes other tourists to head down for vacation. The increased traffic outdoors can be hazardous to animals. Many animals get hit by cars as they cross the roadways looking for new territories and better food sources. People enjoying the outdoors may also forget their sense of responsibility to the environment. Frequently trash is left behind when people go on adventures. This trash can be hazardous to wildlife and may include mono-filament line, fishing gear, balloons from parties, plastic bags, and even food.
Here at Owl’s Nest we would love for everyone to get outside and enjoy all the wonderful wildlife spring has to offer. Here is a list of opportunities that allow you to be a responsible steward for the environment during this time of year.
- -Turn your yard into an ideal environment for wildlife in your area. This could include planting a butterfly garden which is not only great for butterflies but also for birds and bees.
- -Host a cleanup at a your favorite park or beach. Spice it up with a little competition like who can collect the most trash or who can find the most unusual piece of trash. You can even submit your data to the Ocean Conservancy (http://archive.coastalcleanupdata.org) to help better take action and find solutions for pollution.
- -Become a citizen scientist by helping organizations track the species you see and the health of the population of the animals in your area. (https://www.scientificamerican.com/citizen-science/ or http://ebird.org/content/ebird/)
Whatever you do to enjoy nature, we want to make sure we are doing it responsibly. This means taking our trash (even edible) home and throwing away in the proper trash receptacles. It also means allowing animals to do their own wild thing without us intervening. So often animals come into us who have been “kidnapped” by a good samaritan. While human parents stay very close to their babies, wild animals are not the same. They will often times leave their young safely tucked away while they go out and forage for food. Also once animals reach their “toddler” stage they may exploring off without mom even though they’re not ready to be on their own. It’s important to remember mom is still near by providing care and as animals know how to raise animal babies best we let them do their job.
If you do find an animal while you are out that you are concerned with you should contact a local permitted wildlife rehabilitator for support. They will be able to better determine if the animal needs rescue and arrange to provide help.