The recent snows of February brought much-needed moisture.  Spring is still over a month away, but if you look closely you will see signs here and there that life is ready to bloom.  The winds are still cold and we may yet have more snow, but a few bits of green can be seen at the bases of plants, where they are still protected by last year’s leaves and stalks.  A few hardy leaves from last summer also remain, having defied the cold of winter, and are patiently waiting for warmer weather to green up again.  There is water again in some of the streams that have been dry, and the sound of running water is very welcome. 

Image contributed by Nancy Mauer

Our winter birds are still with us, and some smaller birds are working extra hard to eat and stay warm until spring is officially here.  Summer birds have not yet returned, but eagles are here and already nesting, as are ravens.  When we venture out of doors, we can occasionally hear a cheery birdsong, or glimpse the beginning of the brighter breeding plumage of our feathered friends.  In a few more weeks, there will be more calls and color to signal the change of season.

We can also find evidence of our foraging animal friends.  Their tracks in the mud and the remaining snow are numerous.  We may even glimpse a squirrel or a rabbit, a deer or a herd of javelina, even a coyote or bobcat, if we are lucky, or an actual bud on a sheltered plant.  We don’t have Insects, or the lizards that feed on them, just yet – but they too will be out and about before you know it!

Spring in the Central Highlands of Arizona is a time of much activity, so be sure to make a point of getting outside to enjoy these last quiet moments of winter.   Look for the subtle signs of the promise of spring.

Contributed by HCNH Naturalist Sandy Stoecker