With winter loosening its grip, now is a unique time to visit Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary. If you’re like me, you are tired of being pent up inside for so many months and ready for some spring air. As you look out your window, you may think there are few signs of spring. But look closely and you’ll see that the days are already starting to get longer. The birds have noticed!
Shake off the Winter Blues
At the Nature Center you can see a wide variety of songbirds, already shaking off their winter blues. Soon, male goldfinch will provide a splash of color against the gray skies, attracting females with their bright yellow feathers.
Other birds becoming more active are chickadees, cardinals, tufted titmice, and juncos. The sounds of spring are another sure sign that we’ll soon be putting our heavy coats away. Besides the birds singing loudly to one another, you’ll begin to hear western chorus frogs creaking in the marsh or at Rush Creek.
Getting Ready to Bloom
The grass in your yard may still look dull and brown, but out on the Pawpaw and Columbine trails, spring ephemerals are getting ready to bloom. These plants are the earliest flowers of spring, sprouting and blooming in the forest before the trees get their leaves. The first to arrive are Dutchmen’s breeches, bloodroot, and wild violets.
Later in April, you will likely spot trillium, bellwort, trout lily, Solomon’s seal, and wild geranium during a hike on the Pawpaw, Columbine, or Bluff trails. With our relatively mild winter, you never quite know when to expect these spring beauties, so don’t delay a visit.
For a truly unique weekend experience, plan a visit to the nature sanctuary for the Woodcock Watch event. On the evenings of March 2-3 and 9-10, staff will guide visitors to watch the amazing aerial displays in the mating ritual of the American Woodcock. Please call 816-781-8598 to register for this event, or visit naturesanctuary.com
to learn more about this and other activities scheduled.
I hope you’ll come to Martha Lafite to seek out the signs of spring. The trails are open daily from 8 am to 5 pm (starting in April they’ll be open until 8 pm!) and the nature center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no entry fee, but a $5 per vehicle donation is requested.
Everyone at Martha Lafite is looking forward to helping you connect with nature!
Contributed by: Anne Nickel, MLTNS Board President