Maple sugaring season begins when temperatures warm above freezing during the day allowing the sap to rise, retreating back into the roots when temperatures cool at night. This alternating rising and falling temperature keeps the sweet sap flowing until buds on the trees begin to open, bringing an end of another sugaring season.
Maple sugaring continues as the sweet sap flows early in the month and eventually opening buds will turn the sweet sap bitter. Red maples are the first to bloom as their buds burst sending the first wave of pollen into the air. Pussy willows near wetlands open their yellow flowers releasing their pollen into the air relying on wind currents to be deposited on a receptive flower. The bleak forests are highlighted with subtle colors, an indication of more to come.
A typical spring brings total leaf out by mid May. Oaks, which are one of the last trees to sprout new leaves, are now are in full bloom. Their drooping catkins are not showy but produce a great deal of pollen that is dispersed on the wind. Numerous insects are attracted to graze on this pollen and can be a great location to look for songbirds feasting on pollen covered insects.
Mast crops provide a bounty for wildlife this month. Sweet white oaks and bitter red oaks acorns begin to fall and are consumed by squirrels, deer, birds and insects providing a good layer of fat before winter. Hickories and black walnuts nuts are stashed underground and in hollow trees to provide food during the cold winter months. Witch hazel now only begins to bloom as last year’s seeds are now dispersed by small “explosion” sending seeds flying up to 10 feet away!