What’s Happening in Nature: February
Although February might seem like a quiet month in nature, there are many things starting to stir as we welcome the start of spring. Here are five things that are happening in nature in the month of February.
- Animal Mating Season
It isn’t just humans that regard February as the month of love. Owls, Skunks, raccoons, coyotes, otters, squirrels and foxes all start searching for mates this month. Even groundhogs will take a peek out of their burrows to see who’s around. Listen for the yips and barks of foxes and the howling of coyotes in the evenings. Take extra precautions when driving this time of year as some of these bachelors could be crossing roads to find love.
“Foxes in Bracken” by john.purvis is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
2. Hooting Season
You don’t have to wait for summer to hear birds sing. In late-winter owls begin to find a mate by calling out through the afternoon and late-evening air. Their hoots can travel long distances this time of year, when leaves and vegetation have not started growing. The large barred-owl calls out in a low sound that sounds like a question, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”
“Proud Parents” by Costa1973 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
3. Food Scarcity
February is national bird feeding month. As we get into late winter, food stores are being depleted and anything left may have some new competition. Watch backyards and feeders as unfamiliar faces might show up in search for food in new territories. Put out suet, a high-calorie bird food, to help the birds when they need it the most.
“Red-Bellied Woodpecker” by NCReedplayer is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
4. Early Nesters
Some birds like eastern bluebirds, northern cardinals and mourning doves begin to look for nesting sites on warm days and late in the month. Clean out your birdboxes or set out new ones to attract early nesters.
“2013_04_24_EABL_WWCSP_2663” by Kathy1006 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
5. Tapping Maple Trees
Trees are preparing for warmer days ahead, as sap containing the stored sugars from the roots begin to move throughout the tree. For the northern part of Kentucky, the general rule of thumb is to tap sugar maples for syrup between Valentine ’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. However, this could fluctuate depending on the weather. Usually a combination of cold nights (20°-35° F.) and warm days (45°- 55° F.) bring on the greatest activity.
“MapleTapping 022” by 4Unpaved is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0