Spring Heats Up

Returning from a week in Colorado, I found that mid Missouri has greened up significantly. Some of the trees, including our magnolias and tulip trees, have fully leafed out and others are close behind; only the mimosas, among the last trees to develop leaves, retain their winter appearance.

A week of warm, humid weather has given spring a boost. Toads are trilling a night, the azaleas are in bloom and dogwoods have unfurled their showy white brackets. Down at the Forum Nature Area, aquatic turtles were peering from the shallows and a host of summer birds moved among the greening trees and shrubs; these included orchard orioles, indigo buntings, eastern kingbirds and a large number of chipping sparrows. Despite the dramatic shift toward summer, a few white-throated sparrows still called from the thickets, a bit tardy for their trip to Canada.

In the Midwest, the final week of April and the first week of May usually encompass the most abrupt change in course of nature's year. Winter quits battling with spring but, before she can settle into a mild, comfortable lifestyle, summer takes up the challenge. The shift toward heat and humidity has begun.