1. Spring Peepers – Wetlands thaw and release choruses of spring peepers, soon joined by red-winged blackbirds trilling from budding bushes.
2. Ruffed Grouse sounds – Male ruffed grouse stand atop old logs and drum their wings to establish territory and attract a mate. Hear the sound:
3. Pussy willows – produce their furry catkins, one of the first signs of spring in the bare forest.
4. Smell of Spring – Along a hiking path, the rich scent of warming soil and leaf cover on the forest floor, often next to lingering snow banks sheltered in pockets of northern exposure.
5. Fawns – white tailed deer babies or fawns are odorless when they are born so predators can’t detect where they are. The mother will leave the fawn for a few days right after birth as not to rub any of her scent off on the fawn while it gains strength.
6. Sandhill cranes – return to forage in open fields or soar overheard on outstretched wings with their long legs trailing behind. Their distinct guttural calls carry a long way in the spring air.
7. Ducks on the lake – Flotillas of migrating ducks bob along the shore in Lake Michigan. The Sleeping Bear Dunes shoreline is a major migratory route and favorite of bird watchers.
8. Trillium – This beautiful flower blooms and covers the forest floor with a blanket of white before the trees leaf out above.
9. Loons return to favorite inland lake nesting spots soon after ice out.
10. Cyclists – Lingering sections of packed snow and ice from a season of skiing on the Heritage Trail finally soften and give way to cyclists.