After any winter in the Northeast, Spring brings a respite that is most welcome, like a gift after long months of frigid weather.
This year's early Spring comes courtesy a February that was the warmest in history, which itself came only two years after we had the coldest February on record.
This year's warm weather is already bringing in the season's first arrivals. Red Wing Blackbirds are usually a bellwether of Spring, and Beaver Meadow Audubon Center's Tom Kerr says they've been here for a few weeks.
"We're seeing a lot of birds that usually don't show up until the middle of March, and they were here a week ago," Kerr says. "We have a flock of Red Wing Blackbirds at the bird feeders right now, and usually I don't see them until the middle of March."
Departures are as much an indicator of Spring's return as arrivals.
Kerr explains, "A lot of the waterfowl have left already and moved on. We were out at Niagara Falls yesterday, and almost all of the ducks are gone. There's no Tundra Swans left, they've all left…usually we see them into March."
Early Springs seem to be increasing in frequency over recent decades, but this one will not present a problem for the environment if the weather remains consistent. Should Winter return for a prolonged period, the impact will be much different, and humans will feel the negative effects as much as any other life.
"If you have birds that are arriving that rely on certain food sources, they're not finding them if they're covered in snow, they're not finding them if it's too cold for insects to be out," Kerr said.
Beaver Meadow's Mark Carra explained the effects on fruit crops.
"People usually talk about how it affects the animals and all that, but even agriculture is talking about the changes in terms of blooming and leafing out and such. It's a domino effect, once it affects a plant, it eventually affects us all. I mean, look at fruit crops! Fruit crops are affected beyond belief!"
The unstable patterns of weather are a hallmark of climate change, and could be a sign of things to come.
"I'm worried about the climate we're leaving our kids," said Kerr. " I'm worried about the climate I'm going to have to live the rest of my life with, not just my kids, you know. I see small changes now, but they add up over time. "
"We need to heed all these warnings, they may be minor to most people, but when you put them all together and you look at the grand scheme of things, there's little doubt in my mind that we're treading in very,very deep water."
The future, however, has not been written in stone, and though the hand of man has played a big part in the change in climate, we can turn the tide as well.
Kerr offers some advice.
"Think about the energy you use, it could be as simple as changing your light bulbs to LEDs now, turning off your lights, driving less, alternative fuels."
"I really think this is the great possibility," says Carra. "Get the public involved, they'll get excited about it and feel invested in it, and I think investment in Nature is an investment in our future. "
To learn more about the Beaver Meadow Audubon Center and their slate of upcoming events, click here
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