NC Now: April 2017

North Carolina Now

Jeff Beane, Collections Manager of Herpetology at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, is a marvelous naturalist with years of observations of what’s happening in nature across North Carolina. The following are some of the many things he recommends that you look out for in late March and April!

March 11: Southern toads are breeding. Many reptiles are emerging from hibernation:

Southern toad

Southern Toad. Photo by Jeff Beane

March 12: Carpenter frogs begin calling in the Coastal Plain.

March 13: Eastern fox squirrels are bearing their spring litters. Young females may produce only one litter, but older ones usually have a second litter in summer.

March 14: Eastern cottontail spring litters are born.

March 15: Skunk cabbage is in bloom.

March 18: Hardwood trees begin to acquire leaves in the Piedmont.

March 19: Bachman’s sparrows begin singing in the longleaf pine savannas of the Coastal Plain.

March 20: Spring equinox at 6:29 a.m. EDT. Oconee bells are in bloom.

March 21: Trout lilies, bloodroot, and several other spring wildflowers are in bloom. Fox pups are born.

March 22: First luna moth broods emerge:

Luna moth

Luna Moth. Photo by Jeff Beane

March 23: Chimney swifts and nighthawks are returning.

March 25: Yellow-throated warblers and other early spring migrants are arriving.

March 26: Blue toadflax is in bloom.

March 28: Peak shorebird migration along the coast. Pea Island, Ocracoke, and Portsmouth Island provide good shorebird viewing.

March 29: Brown-headed nuthatches are nesting.

March 30: Bluets and violets are in bloom. Southern cricket frogs begin calling:

southern cricket frog

Southern Cricket Frog. Photo by Jeff Beane

March 31: Falcate orange-tip butterflies are flying. Whip-poor-wills and chuck-will’s-widows begin calling.

April 1: Palamedes swallowtails are flying. White-eyed vireos are returning. Pyxie-moss is in bloom.

April 2: Ruby-throated hummingbirds are returning:

ruby throated humminbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Photo by Jeff Beane

April 3: Dwarf iris is in bloom.

April 5: Eastern bluebirds begin laying eggs. Several darter species are spawning.

April 6: Fowler’s toads begin calling.

April 7: Beaver kits are being born.

April 9: Spicebush swallowtails are flying.

April 10: Green frogs and northern cricket frogs begin calling.

April 11: Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks begin nesting.

April 13: Orchard orioles are returning. Bobwhites begin calling.

April 14: Yucca giant-skippers are flying. This rare butterfly’s larvae feed on yucca, and the adults have one of the shortest flight periods of all our butterflies.

April 15: Lupines are in bloom in the Coastal Plain and Sandhills. Red-tailed hawks are nesting:

red tailed hawk

Red-tailed Hawk. Photo by Jeff Beane

April 16: Peak eastern redbud bloom over much of the state. Hardwood trees have begun to acquire leaves in the Mountains.

April 17: Our state frog—the Pine Barrens treefrog—has begun calling. This uncommon frog breeds in bayheads and seeps in portions of our Sandhills and Coastal Plain:

Pine barrens treefrog

Pine Barrens Treefrog. Photo by Jeff Beane

April 20: Bluebird eggs begin hatching. Northern bobwhite and wild turkeys begin nesting. Ruffed grouse are drumming in the Mountains.

April 21: Mayapple is in bloom.

April 22: Earth Day. Many activities celebrating life on Earth will take place this week. Contact your favorite environmental organization to find out what is happening near you.

April 24: Ospreys are nesting. Yellow pitcher plants are in bloom.

April 25: Bullfrogs have begun calling over much of the state.

April 26: Bowfin are spawning. Clapper rails are nesting.

April 27: Foam flower, Solomon’s seal, and false Solomon’s seal are in bloom.

April 28: Many sunfish species are spawning.  Peak bloom for our state flower—flowering dogwood—over much of the state:

Redbud in bloom

Redbud. Photo by Chris Goforth

April 29: Lady’s-slippers and showy orchid are in bloom.

April 30: Yellow-bellied sliders begin nesting. Raccoon kits are being born.