This week’s column is a quiz that focuses on interesting nature events taking place in the Long Island region during the month of March. The answers, and some explanations for each, are found at the end of the column.
During March, we celebrate the official end of winter and beginning of the spring season with the spring equinox, a date when the time spanning sunset and sunrise is equal to the time between sunrise and sunset, providing the same amount of minutes of daylight as there are of darkness. March is a month when any type of weather is possible: a summer-like warm and sunny day could be followed by a winter snowstorm!
As with other months of the year, this is a great time to get outdoors and monitor changes in our flora and fauna as the spring season progresses.
Here are a few questions related to natural events under way right now:
1) Of the following species that nest on Long Island, which ones migrate south for the winter and arrive back on Long Island in March?
b) American robin
d) all of the above
2) Which of the following seal species found in the Long Island region is born in January and shows up as a newly weaned two-to-three month-old pup on Long Island beaches in March?
a) harp seal
b) grey seal
c) harbor seal
d) ringed seal
3) Long Island’s native turtle species include the eastern box turtle, spotted turtle, snapping turtle, painted turtle, eastern mud turtle, and diamondback terrapin. Which two are most likely to be seen basking in March?
4) Which of the following trees and shrubs native to Long Island blooms earliest in the spring, flowering in March?
a) red maple
b) flowering dogwood
5) Long Island’s native frogs and toads include the wood frog, spring peeper, bullfrog, gray treefrog, leopard frog, green frog, Fowler’s toad, and spadefoot toad. Which two of these is most likely to be heard calling from their breeding ponds in March?
6) March marks the arrival of a migratory fish that swims up Long Island’s tidal creeks to spawn in freshwater, and a migratory bird of prey that catches that fish in its talons. Name them:
7) Which of the following mammals is found on Long Island and emerges from its winter hibernacula in March?
d) a and c
8) Which of the following could be found raising chicks on Long Island in March?
a) great-horned owl
b) horned lark
c) barn owl
d) all of the above
1) c) osprey [cardinals and robins winter here on Long Island]
2) b) grey seal
3) spotted and painted
4) d) spicebush
5) wood frog and spring peeper
6) alewife and osprey
7) d) a and c [although the chipmunk is not a true hibernator, it does not leave its den during the winter months]
8) d) all of the above