It was recently Groundhogs Day, so what does that mean for us?

Basically, nothing, for this is Minnesota.

And the woodchuck (as its known locally) is under three feet of snow and asleep in its burrow. The only way we will see it in the next six weeks is if we get an early thaw and it floods its burrow. The earliest I have seen one in the past 20 years was March 20, 2003. My average first is April 9.

So for us, the only wood chucking we will be doing is putting it on the fire as we contemplate whether or not we have enough to make it till spring. We would be better off measuring the length of the shadow of our snowbanks to see how many days until we can think about pulling out the lawn mower.

The first rodent we will see this spring is the chipmunk, with an average appearance of March 28. Maybe his appearance lets us know if the lakes will be ice free by May?

I heard a great horned owl call this morning. They are getting ready to nest soon.

I also saw a roadkill raccoon and smelled a skunk, as they are out now looking for mates.

The willows and red osier dogwood stems are turning red. Woodpeckers are drumming on hollow trees. Chickadees and nuthatches are starting their spring calls, so these are some signs that winter will end.

Spring is near, a poem

As I walk through the pines all is still

the February wind has a biting chill

Winter drags on and seems very long

then the chickadee sings his pretty song

Eeedeee eedee ee dee dee

Spring is near, spring is near



As I stand still look and listen

All around me the sun in the snow glistens

The winter is long, but the sun is strong

Soon the snow will be all gone

for the chickadee sings his pretty song

Eeedeee eedee ee dee dee

Spring is near, spring is near



Now the warm south winds of March blow

There’s bare ground in spots were there was snow

I can smell spring in the air

An as to say we’re almost there

the chickadee sings his pretty song

Eeedeee eedee dee dee dee

Spring is near, spring is near



The winds return from the north slope

And we all begin to lose hope

But the chickadee is never sad

And sings just as gay and glad

Eeedeee eedee dee dee dee

Spring is near, spring is near



In April, the hepaticas begin to flower

And the wood frogs start to holler

Chickadee sings with cheer

For all of us to hear

Eeedeee eedee dee dee dee

Spring is near, spring is near

An outdoorsman all his life, Dallas Hudson grew up in Akeley. He tracks the birds, animals, insects, plants of northern Minnesota in his daily journals. Hudson shares his nature observations and photos with KAXE’s Season Watch, the Minnesota Phenology Network and the Park Rapids Enterprise. He works at an official field camp of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on Shingobee Lake, near Akeley.