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The Suburbanite
  • Signs of spring blooming, growing across the area this Earth Day

  • When it comes to Ohio weather, it’s sometimes difficult to tell, but spring is here. There are a number of signs that warmer weather really is going to heat up the area soon.

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  • When it comes to Ohio weather, it’s sometimes difficult to tell, but spring is here. There are a number of signs that warmer weather really is going to heat up the area soon.
    BIRDS AND CRITTERS
    Walking around our backyards, going on a hike on one of the Stark Parks trails or visiting one of the many parks in Stark County, there is a slew of birds, wildlife and flowers that are thought to be the first signs of spring. Amanda Perry, a programmer with Stark Parks, said there are a couple of birds to watch for in the area.
    “Red-winged blackbirds and turkey vultures have been seen in the area for over a month now,” Perry said. “Both types of birds are not here in the winter months and only return with spring and warmer weather.
    “People can also start listening for toads and frogs that start calling to each other in the early spring,” she said.
    The first species of frogs to return is the spring peeper. Frogs and toads can be heard while walking in an area that is wet and marshy.
    “Peepers can be heard when walking along one of our trails that has a marsh area; they sit in groups of hundreds or thousands so it will get very loud,” said Jared Shive, marketing specialist with the Stark County Park District.
    Perry said that many people think that the robin is the first sign of spring. She said robins actually stay in the area and recede into the woods during the winter months and change their diet to berries and seeds.
    Another bird that makes its voice heard during early springtime is the woodcock.
    “People can start listening for and hearing the woodcock as the weather gets warmer,” Perry said. “Their wings make a chirping noise as they fly and when they do their dance. They also make a noise called a peent when they land.”
    Those on the lookout for woodcocks will find them in central and Western Stark County.
    “The Hoover Trail in North Canton and Petros Lake Park on Perry Drive are good places to see and hear the woodcocks,” Shive said.
    Groundhogs also have been out of their dens for more than a month. Perry said groundhogs do hibernate through the winter and come out to check the weather starting in February.
    Skunks start to move about as the weather warms up. Plus, spring is the start of their mating season.
    While deer are active throughout the year, spring is when deer start having their young.
    “People can see deer along many of our trails that are buffered from neighborhoods and roadways,” Shive said.
    Page 2 of 2 - SPRING FLOWERS
    In addition to the crocuses, tulips and lilies, Danielle Grimm, administrative assistant and coordinator for gardening seminars at Stark Parks and a master gardener, said there are a number of plants and flowers to watch for as the weather gets warmer.
    “Two of the earliest plants or flowers to bloom this time of year are bloodroot and shooting stars,” Grimm said. “Another early spring bloomer is wild ginger, a short heart-shaped leaf that blooms on the ground and gets pollinated by the black ground beetle.”
    All of these can be found in the parks, on the walking trails and in natural lawns during spring months. The bloodroot is a singe shoot with eight to 12 delicate white petal flowers with yellow centers. The flowers open over clasping leaves while blooming. The leaves will close over the flowers at night.
    Shooting stars are flowers that grow on a stalk about an inch and half tall with six to 30 flowers hanging down. The flowers look like a shooting star plummeting from the sky.
    According to gardenguides.com, petals are white, light pink or violet.
    Grimm said that red and white trilliums, the state flower, also start to bloom in late spring. Jack-in-the-pulpit is a woodland flower that also shows up this time of year.
    “Jack-in-the-pulpit is a wild flower but people have been seeking it out to grow in their gardens,” Grimm said. “Many of the early spring blooming flowers and plants can be seen in most backyards.”
    Even if the temperature is a few degrees on the cold side, spring is a great time to get out and watch nature come awake. If lacking a back yard, Stark Parks offers numerous walking trails and park areas where residents can go to see spring arrive in all of its glory.
    Visit www.starkparks.com for a list of locations and a calendar of events.