Though the calendar tells us that spring doesn't officially start until March 20th, signs of spring are already showing their presence in town.
Spring is a time of growth and renewal. Trees and shrubs are budding, temperatures are rising, plants and flowers are growing, and many birds are migrating.
While many of us are happy to actually see the ground clear of snow for a change, other welcome events are taking place as well.
In meadows, marshes and roadsides, flashy male red-winged blackbirds are proclaiming their arrival with a raspy "Oak-A-Leeee". While it's not a particularly pleasing sounding song it is one of the classic indicators that spring is on it's way.
Large and noisy congregations of common grackles are feeding on spilled birdseed underneath bird feeders.
American robins, the state bird of Connecticut, are hopping about on soggy lawns and playing fields in search of food.
Odd looking American woodcocks, short and round-shaped birds with long beaks, are giving their buzzy "peent" call from brushy fields in their quest to attract the attention of a female. Now that the ground is soft and the snow is gone, they can probe their long beaks into the soil in search of juicy earthworms.
Local resident birds such as chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, mourning doves and cardinals are starting to sing. Soon they will pair off and begin raising their families.
The leaves of crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils are beginning to emerge from the snow and ice free ground. Beautiful flowers will soon adorn them, decorating the landscape with vibrant color.
Blooming pussy willows provide a cheerful splash of yellow in a forest clearing.
Large leaves of the foul smelling skunk cabbage are sprouting in wetlands. The pungent smell will attract pollinators such as flies and bees.
Soon, tiny spring peepers, a species of frog, will begin their high-pitched "peeping" from wetlands. Warm spring rains will trigger this chorus which at times can almost be deafening. Spotted salamanders will begin emerging from their winter hideouts beneath logs, rocks and leaf litter and will then make their way to nearby ponds and vernal pools to spawn.
Try to make it a point to take notice of the first signs of spring around you and your appreciation of nature's wonders will grow. Once you learn how to identify the signs you can look for them every year and greet them like an old friend you haven't seen in awhile.