By Derek Stoner, Education Program Assistant
Sightings from the past week: what to look for now outdoors!
Return of the Raptor: Amidst the arrival of colorful songbirds that wintered in the tropics, a long-distance migrant raptor is often overlooked in its journey north: the Broad-winged Hawk.
While huge flocks of these small woodland raptors may be seen during fall migration(headed to South America), the spring movement of these birds is much less-celebrated. On a good day in late April with winds from the south, a patient observer may see Broad-wingeds flying along river valleys and ridges as they trace a path northward.
Sap-seeker: A member of the brushfoot family of butterflies, the Mourning Cloak overwinters as an adult and emerges on sunny days in late winter or early spring. Named for the funereal color of its wings, these butterflies feed on tree sap, particularly that of oak trees. Before flowers are available to provide nectar for our many native butterflies, the Mourning Cloak is flying around and seeking out sap in our local woodlands.
Fishy Flower: The Trout Lily is so-named because of its mottled leaves, which look rather like the speckled skin of a Brook Trout. Local woodlands in late April are ablaze with these brilliant yellow blooms. The plants spread underground by corms, and dozens of blooms may occur in a few square feet of forest floor.