Step Outside: Your Spring Guide to Nature’s Events

It’s here: the time of year where we inconspicuously look for signs that spring is near. We long for any indication – buds on the trees, an American robin, or any other clues that spring is coming! Spring officially arrives on March 20th with the springing forward of the clocks and we delight at the thought of warmer weather and extended daylight hours. Although we may have our own favourite signs that announce Spring has arrived, the Step Outside Nature Guides reveal many more sights, sounds and smells out there!

Balsam poplar buds produce one of the first smells of spring (Photo from Keller Lab Ecological Genomics)

One of the first smells of spring comes from the Balsam Poplar buds, as the protective resin is softening in the warming sun. Find some, pinch the buds gently, then inhale the pleasant fragrance. Blooming flowers, earthy aroma after the rain, and fresh cut grass are other scents of spring, but not all are pleasant! Sneak a peek at the Late March Step Outside guide to find out who is attracted to the Skunk Cabbage plant and its overpowering scent of onions mixed in with a bit of skunk.

Have you noticed the birds are getting louder? Now that the bird species are beginning to return, males are singing their little hearts out, looking for a companion. Spring is the ideal time to attract a mate, and what better way than by showing off the different calls they can make. Birds have different songs, but a good set of pipes isn’t the only thing that attracts the ladies. Check out the Step Outside March Nature Guides to see who else is out there cruising for a mate!

Willow stems are turning yellow-green, Red Osier Dogwood stems are turning red, purple crocuses and white snowdrops are popping up everywhere, but they are not the only part of the picturesque and colourful sights of spring. Learn more about the Yellow Spotted Salamander; Blue Spotted Salamander, Red Spotted Newts, Red Squirrels, Grey Squirrels, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, painted butterflies, and more colourful creatures that contribute to the spring canvas.

Mark your calendars! Earth Hour will occur on Saturday, March 30th (8:30-9:30). Be part of the global phenomena of lights being turned off in local communities around the world. Lights down, stars up – not only will you be helping fight climate change, but also helping migrating birds and star gazers.

Step Outside is an entertaining compilation of seasonal happenings designed to help students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Published by LSF two to three times each month, the guides detail interesting natural events taking place outdoors- often just beyond the school walls.

Available on the R4R website, Step Outside Nature Guides identify opportunities throughout the school year for teachers to move the classroom outdoors and include a variety of tools to support teaching and learning. Each guide is filled with engaging images and videos as well as links to a variety of ‘easy-to-implement’ activities and lesson plans found in the R4R database.

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