Exploring Signs of Spring with the Snapshot Wisconsin Data Dashboard

Everyone has a certain seasonal change that tells them spring is around the corner. For me, it’s seeing the crocuses pop up in the yards around Madison, along with hearing the red-winged blackbirds trill in the tall grass. Below are a few examples of Wisconsin wildlife and plants to look for as the snow melts and the temperature and daylight increases.

You can explore the seasonal patterns of different species on the Snapshot Wisconsin Data Dashboard. The Data Dashboard is updated with data from our trail cameras over time. To check out current data as of spring 2021, select a species from the list on the left side. Then, scroll over to the Animal Activity graph on the right-hand side of the page. Select the “by Month” option beneath the graph in order to see what changes typically occur in March.

You’ll find some common springtime patterns captured on our Snapshot cameras, like cottontails as they are increasingly out and about. In fact, the appearance of cottontails is twice as likely in March as it is February.

A graph showing increased cottontail rabbit sightings in MarchA cottontail rabbit sitting on a log

Americans give a lot of power in predicting spring to the groundhog, or as we call it in the classification interface, a woodchuck. We don’t see woodchucks out and about until March on the Snapshot cameras. This is an increase from zero detections in January and February while they are hibernating.

A graph showing increased woodchuck sightings in March through MayA woodchuck

Fishers appear on Snapshot cameras more in March than during any other time of the year! This might be because they usually give birth in February and mate in March and April, so there is a lot of activity in the fisher lifecycle during this part of the year.

Graph showing increased fisher sightings in MarchA fisher walking through the snowy woods

One of the most recognizable signs of spring is the return of bird species. You can see that Snapshot cameras capture a huge jump in detection of Sandhill cranes starting in March as they return north.

A graph showing increased Sandhill Crane sightings in MarchA sandhill crane in springtime

Although Snapshot Wisconsin is a project focused on the fauna in our communities, there are also a bunch of neat flora to look out for as spring comes around. Keep your eyes out for pussy willows, daffodils, Siberian squill, and other trees, shrubs and ground cover that will begin to blossom in the background of our trail camera photos.

And if you are curious about firsts elsewhere, the USA National Phenology Network posts the status of spring across the country. You can watch as spring comes to different regions and track trends, temperatures, and species as you await the arrival of spring in your own backyard.

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