Birds.− This month, spring migrants are headed our way. Some species that may be seen during the next couple months, as they head north, include: some wood-warblers (including golden-winged,
Species will be arriving this month with the intention of staying the summer and breeding here in the
Some of our year-round residents are busy this month as well. Many Carolina wrens – small, energetic brown birds with upturned tails, distinct whitish eyebrows and curved bills -- hatch in April, and the young are heard boldly chirping in their nests. The female usually incubates five eggs in a nest of twigs, bark, leaves and grass busily constructed by both parents. Nest sites often can by found in cavities and protected areas, both natural and man-made. Unused grills and back porches are often prime real estate for these adaptable birds. After two weeks of incubation, young
Did you know? The spring migration of birds occurs along four principal “flyways” in
Butterflies.− In April, butterfly watchers may begin to find some of the skippers (e.g., zabulon, dusted, pepper and salt), duskywings (mottled, zarucco), cloudywings (southern, northern, confused), satyrs (gemmed,
Swallowtails, a largely tropical family of colorful butterflies with distinctive tails on their hind wings, make exciting sightings in April. Five swallowtail species make their homes in
Other Insects.− This month, field crickets will begin to call, crane flies will hover in the grass and ticks abound. Also expect to see some dragonflies zipping through the air, searching for mosquitoes and other prey. Dragonflies to look for in April include the darners, a family that represents some of the largest and fastest flying dragonflies in
Reptiles & Amphibians.− This month, northern cricket frogs, eastern narrow-mouthed toads and Cope’s gray treefrogs will begin to call. American and Fowler’s toads, spring peepers, bull frogs, green frogs, southern leopard frogs and eastern spadefoots will continue to call, but the large choruses of southeastern chorus frogs will be winding down this month.
April frog call guide:
southeastern chorus frog: raspy, rising call like someone dragging their thumb over the teeth of a comb
spring peepers: a loud, medium pitched “peeep”
northern cricket frogs: clinking like two small metal balls being tapped together
American toads: long, musical trill
Fowler’s toads: long, slightly nasal, crabby trill
eastern narrow-mouth toads: buzzy and sheep-like call (like a Fowler’s toad, but shorter and buzzier)
eastern spadefoot toads: a crabby, deep “eeeerrrr”
Look in shallow permanent or ephemeral ponds to find frog and toad eggs and even tadpoles. In April, visible eggs include the long gray-green strings of Fowler’s toad eggs and globs of gelatinous black spotted Cope’s gray treefrog eggs. In most years, small and dark American toad tadpoles will emerge this month.
Also, be on the lookout for basking yellow-bellied sliders and painted turtles. Snakes will be out as well, so be sure not to step on the diminutive and well-camouflaged northern brown snake (Storeria dekayi) when walking on preserve trails. When gardening this month, also watch out for secretive rough earth snakes and eastern worm snakes,
In Bloom this Month.− April is a wonderful month to test your tree identification skills. Try to identify trees by their bark or buds before they flower and leaf out!
In late March and early April, woodland hikers may notice a diminutive plant with three mottled leaves radiating out from the center, topped by a single maroon flower; this is likely one of the Piedmont’s most common trilliums, little sweet betsy or Trillium cuneatum. This musk-scented gem was once used medicinally to treat gangrene and skin ulcers. It is now a favorite among natural landscapers, as it is deer resistant.
BUCKEYES (Aesculus spp.)
WINDFLOWER (Anemonella thalictroides)
SWEET-SHRUB (Calycanthus floridus)
MUSCLEWOOD (Carpinus caroliniana)
FLOWERING DOGWOOD (Cornus
RATTLESNAKE-WEED (Hieracium venosum)
QUAKER-LADIES (Houstonia caerulea)
DWARF CRESTED IRIS (Iris cristata)
CORAL HONEYSUCKLE (Lonicera sempervirens)
HAIRY WOODRUSH (Luzula echinata)
VIRGINIA PENNYWORT (Obolaria virginiana)
EARLY SAXIFRAGE (Saxifraga virgininiensis)
AMERICAN BLADDERNUT (Staphylea trifolia)
GIANT CHICKWEED (Stellaria pubera)
FOAMFLOWER (Tiarella cordifolia)
CATESBY’S TRILLIUM (Trillium catesbaei)
LITTLE SWEET BETSY (Trillium cuneatum)
MAPLE-LEAF VIBURNUM (Viburnum acerifolium)
DOWNY ARROW-WOOD (Viburnum rafinesquianum)
Soil Series of the Month.− Recall that the United States contains over 19,000 different soils series, i.e., the most specific grouping of soils based on shared history, chemistry, and physical properties. The most general classification of soil is the soil order. Worldwide, there are only 12 soil orders.
A common Ultisol, the quintessential deep red, clayey soil of the
Wildlife Profile.− This month’s wildlife feature is the
Cook, D. 2001. The Piedmont Almanac.
Daniels, J. C. (2003). Butterflies of the
Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye (1988). The Birder's Handbook.
LeGrand, H. E. Jr. 2009. Notes on the Butterflies of
LeGrand, H. E. Jr. and Howard, T. E. Jr. 2011. Notes on the Odonates of
Martof, B. S., W. M. Palmer, J. R. Bailey, and J. R. Harrison. 1980. Amphibians and Reptiles of the
Moldenhauer, R. R., and D. J. Regelski. 1996.