Wow! Are we done yet? Keep your boots out just in case!

We are excited that the month of May is here, and hoping that the old poem is correct in its forecast!

April Showers, Bring May Flowers

We certainly have had our April showers, snow, sleet and thundersnow, as well as rain.  The plants may not be aware of this proverb but they rarely have to worry about having enough water this time of year!

As you can tell the short saying is really a poem. There is meaning in those words.  And, for many of us who observe the natural words, a lot of truth. We also know that these soggy days will bring the sunshine and colors we crave. People have been keeping records of plant blooms for thousands of years. This practice is called phenology. This has turned into a science and provides land managers and scientists with multitudes of specific data that they can use to learn more about ecosystems over time. The monthly happenings really do repeat each other over the years and noting the changes has helped residents and nature buffs make their yards and natural areas more wildlife friendly!  Our volunteers at Ancient Oaks Foundation are always on the lookout for plants blooming, in fact, often it will be a plant that we haven’t seen before.  Now that the areas we have maintained are clear of invasive buckthorn the seeds left over in the soil seed bank can bust open and reach for the sun.  It is a surprise every day!

It’s not just the plants we keep track of at our splendid natural areas but we have volunteer bluebird monitors. These hardy souls, who often work alone, help us keep track of over 20 boxes. They have become experts at knowing the signs of bluebirds making housing
choices. If you get a chance to stroll through one of the natural areas, stop and watch a bluebird nest box from afar. Right about now they are nest building. The nests are carefully put together with pieces of grass, pine needles, straw, feathers, and hair.  If the box is occupied you will be rewarded with a flash of sky blue on the wing carrying nest materials.

There is also a song called “April Showers” written in 1921 by Louis Silvers. His lyrics also mention bluebirds and the bluebirds of happiness.  It seems when we hear the rain has stopped pounding on the roof, the winds slow down a bit, and we see the sun peeking through the clouds, the bluebirds appear and we hear their glorious chatter.  It makes us smile, puts a skip in our step, spreads good cheer and lifts our spirits.

Til next time!

Mary Kozub
AOF Board Member

Mary has worked for McHenry County Conservation District for 16 years and has been a “founding” member of the Village of Lake Zurich’s Tree Commission for 20 years.