FROM SOUTHERN WISCONSIN - Now that spring has arrived via our calendars, a myriad of celebrations can be counted upon to confirm this season.
The village of Spring Green, in Richland County, was named for this season. The first female settler in the area, Mrs. Turner Williams, in 1843, boarded early surveyors at her house and requested they name the site Spring Green because nearby hollows, facing south, greened up earlier than the surrounding areas, as reported in Robert Gard’s book, “The Romance of Wisconsin Place Names.”
Other south-facing slopes are doing the same now, as are bubbling springs facing any direction and feeding evergreen watercress, which attracts deer and people for a spring tonic.
A nesting bird is another celebration. Already bald eagles, great-horned owls, hawks and other nest constructionists are engineering interim bedrooms, mostly in trees.
While pileated woodpeckers are uncommon in most parts, finding their nest locations are not as difficult. They have a sharp, loud woodland tone of kikkik-kikkik-kik-kik. But that only tells of their general location or flight pattern before landing against a dead bigtooth aspen.
It is no mistake to commonly call this woodpecker a tree cleaver. Even before the snow stops falling and then melts, handfuls of splinter-sized softwood decorate the snow, later the leaf debris, as male and female excavators take turns creating an opening and then a chamber large enough for this largest woodpeckers anywhere. Still, just one at a time can enter the tree hollow.
When they pause to allow the other to leave the cavity, the two genders can be parted fairly easily by the amount and placement of red head feathers.
As the woodpeckers’ eggs hatch, so are direct litter births of more hidden animals, including flying squirrels and other tree squirrels.
Wild turkeys are not nesting, but romancing one another to assure nesting will be necessary later. Gobbling from toms and jakes fills the dawn.
In some locations, ring-necked pheasants and ruffed grouse are adding their chants and cries. Counting that spring music is one way to access populations.
Permits to hunt wild turkeys are now on sale at license outlets, but it will be necessary to purchase a turkey hunting license before asking for a left-over permit costing $10 if you live in Wisconsin.
Licenses expire Friday, March 31. New licenses are already on sale. The upcoming Deer and Turkey Expo in Madison is another location where licenses can be obtained, March 31, to April 2, at the Alliant Energy Center along John Nolen Drive.
Greening has deer looking anywhere for food these days. No one has noticed that more than the DNR crews capturing and collaring deer in Dane, Grant and Iowa counties for the five-year predator study. It takes bait to coax deer under an elevated drop net, but corn is no longer working as well as it did when snow covered spring’s greens.
Some of these deer coming to the bait are still antlered and yes, they sometimes get their antlers tangled in the net, which may hinder their escape until a GPS collar is attached.
Now, with grackles returning, they are sure to find our bird feeders filled with sunflower seeds. Some determent is possible by feeding safflower seeds and still having cardinals and other more popular birds coming to visit.
Even the power of our poor olfactory system can detect skunks are out and about. Damp evenings especially seem to hold the aroma allowing breezes to carry it for up to a mile, as if we were right on top of the black and white critters.
Lawn and forest moles are tunneling tenaciously. Don’t push away the coyotes, who feed on this most subterranean of mammals. Also successfully try to use a scissors trap, easy to set and dependable in early spring when their raised tunnels are long and straight.
For the next four months, more than 50 shades of green will overcoat the topography.