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First Signs of Spring

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Paul Larmer | Feb 28, 2011 08:15 AM


Mountain Bluebirds

We asked our HCN Facebook community what signs of spring they were seeing (or looking for) in their corner of the West. Several of you mentioned birds, including western meadowlarks -- which have already started singing in earnest here in Western Colorado -- sandhill cranes and and mountain bluebirds. Beth Pratt, who took the photo above, wrote:

"In Yellowstone, we have winter and two days of summer. But a coworker told me to watch for the bluebirds my first year here, and they arrived to bring a hopeful vibrant blue against the monotonous snowy white. Hundreds of them a day. For me, surviving the winter is easier once I see the first bluebird."

Nicole Hallisey says the first signs of spring are "Whistle pigs (aka ground squirrels) out in full force in the desert. They came out of hibernation a few weeks ago, sure sign Spring is on the way here in Boise, Idaho."

For some of you, spring is about the subtle changes in light as the days grow longer. Tom Baird took this lovely February image (his daughter, Tricia Baird Bliss, submitted the photo):

February Light

Others of you are looking even further ahead, to when spring comes to the high country. Susanne Twight-Alexander anticipates "fuzzy, silver catkins on the willows and fawn lilies at the edge of the forest."  I am, too. Here are a couple of shots I took near Crested Butte, Colorado, last year.

silvery catkins

fawn lilies

Reader Colleen Lyon looks for many different signs: "Creeks beginning to surge (strange desires to swim in snowmelt). Artful combinations of ice, snowmelt and sunlight giving way to puddles and mud in which to go barefoot. Avalanche lilies peeking their yellow heads through the snow. The return of Odell's Red Ale and trips to the Utah desert. Compost piles finally emitting sweet earthy smells. Soil warm enough to start turning."

To see more images of the changing seasons, and to post your own, go to our Flickr group.

Paul Larmer is the executive director of High Country News.

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