Spring is in the air

 Photo courtesy: ND Game and Fish
Photo courtesy: ND Game and Fish (KFYR)
Published: Apr. 4, 2020 at 8:13 PM CDT
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If this snow has made you forget it's spring, Mike Anderson shows us about the sights and sounds of spring you can already observe in the great outdoors of North Dakota.

Spring is in the air, days are getting longer, the sun is warming the earth, and snow is slowly melting.

At this time of year, North Dakota skies and open water can fill with snow geese and Canada geese moving north to their nesting grounds. Ducks are slowing arriving back to the duck factory of North America, the prairie pothole region of North Dakota. Eagles, owls, and hawks start nesting in trees around the state.

Crocus flowers are blooming on prairies and sidehills. Robins, meadowlarks, and grassland sparrows return to their summer homes.

As ice comes off our wetlands, many wading birds start arriving, like American Bitterns, Black-crowned Night Herons, and Great Blue Herons. Shorebirds like American Avocets, Wilson's Phalaropes, and Willets are back for another season. Yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds chirp in wetlands. Upland game birds like male turkeys, sharp-tailed grouse, ring-necked pheasants, sage grouse and prairie chickens are displaying and dancing on North Dakota prairies during their annual mating rituals.

Big game animals like whitetail and mule deer are getting ready to have their fawns for the year. Amphibians and reptiles like turtles, frogs, and snakes are waking up after a long winter. Pollinators such as bees and butterflies seem like they show up overnight.

During this time the State Game and Fish Department's fisheries division is busy putting docks and fishing piers in the water. Northern pike spawning begins as soon as the ice comes off our lakes, where fisheries biologists start collecting eggs, and then next comes walleye spawning.

Spring fishing is always popular on the Missouri River as anglers are anxious to get out for the first time. Wildlife biologists are starting their spring surveys … all sure signs that spring is in the air.