March & November

March and November are not beloved months in the American Midwest. While November's image is rescued by the Thanksgiving Holiday and March appeals to college basketball fans, both months are known for their gray skies and cool, wet, blustery weather. After all, both are closely linked to winter and we humans, natives of the Tropics, tend to favor the warm, sunny months.

Nevertheless, March and November have much to offer for the naturalist. Waterfowl migrations peak during these months and wild mammals, stirred by the chill but unencumbered by harsh winter weather or oppressive summer heat, are especially active and conspicuous. And, contrary to popular perception, both months offer plenty of mild, sunny days on which to observe the changing landscape and the abundant wildlife.

This morning, with Venus and a crescent moon paired in the southeast sky, dawn arrived clear and cold. As I walked to work, a barred owl called in the distance and the mellow tune of mourning doves wafted through the neighborhood. We expect an afternoon high in the upper fifties and, for the first time in months, no snow is forecast for the coming week. For now, at least, March is a beautiful month.