By Chelsea Bruemmer | Environmental Educator

AmeriCorps Member, September 2023 – August 2024

Spring is finally here! There are special memories about springtime from when I was little that cemented it as my favorite season. I remember putting on my jacket and waterproof shoes to look for signs of spring to emerge. I watched for the re-emergence of butterflies, songbirds, and wood violets in the woods. Even now, I still squish through the mud with my rain boots on to observe frogs and other animals that reappear once again. There are many things to keep an eye out for!

Wood violets blooming in a cow pasture

For example, critters start to come out; whether from hibernation or back from their winter vacation in the South.  Ruby-throated Hummingbirds start to fly their migratory journey of over 3,000 miles from Central America back to Wisconsin, their summertime home. Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Eastern Bluebirds become spotted in Wisconsin. We start to see robins more often, as ones that migrated South fly back, while ones that stuck around become more active. The majority of American robins only start to sing their song, “cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up” in springtime.

a robin waiting out a snowstorm on a tree branch

Recently, my fellow AmeriCorps members and I cleaned out the birdhouses located in the marsh so we can be on the lookout for baby birds. In the process, we scared out two field mice who were living in an old bird nest that we were cleaning out. One jumped out of the bird entrance hole onto my arm, lept off my arm, and scurried into the dried sedges of the marsh. The other one jumped out the side close to AmeriCorps member, Emma. All five of us had a good laugh for a few minutes. Now, all the birdhouses are clean and ready for native birds (especially tree swallows) to use as homes for their families.

5 americorps members posing around a birdhouse in the prairie

Another thing to notice are growing plants including wood violets, watercress, and many others. Watercress is found along the edges of water, especially spring-fed creeks.  Wood violets are typically found in wet meadows. They are my favorite flower because they only bloom in the spring and are purple. Both watercress and wood violets are edible. I implore you to discover the evidence of our earth coming back to life in spring after its winter slumber.

watercress growing along the banks of a spring fed creek.