Enjoy the arrival of warmer weather, active wildlife at a conservation area near you

News from the region
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – A popular meme graced Facebook feeds across the Midwest throughout March, displaying an angry winter character who continued to re-enter a room shouting, “And another thing!” It seemed to prove true when many Missourians endured snow on the first day of Spring.  The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) assures Missourians nature is ringing in spring at conservation areas across the state.

“In Missouri, the last week of March in the woods is like opening night of a grand performance,” said Sara Turner, manager of the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center.  

In the last week of March, newly emerged zebra swallowtail butterflies begin to flit around woodlands. Wild plums begin blooming along woods and fence rows and the first blooms of gooseberries arrive. Serviceberry also begins to bloom and Ohio buckeyes leaf out just as redbuds grace the landscape with their bright clouds of blooms. In wetland areas, double-crested cormorants arrive for a stay. In the southeastern portion of the state, pileated woodpeckers will drum to establish their territories.

“This is a very busy time for nature, whether you think of plants, insects or wildlife,” said Turner. “What’s seemed like a long winter is finally overcome as our native plants begin to leaf out and bloom and wildlife become active. It’s easy to see why so many people love the spring, since there’s so much to see and do outside.”

Turner said it’s also easy to find places to enjoy nature, no matter where you are in Missouri. MDC manages hundreds of conservation areas across the state, with varying levels of amenities depending on the area.

“Right here in southeast Missouri we have beautiful areas like Amidon Memorial CA, General Watkins CA, Tywapitty CA, and several others,” Turner said. “It’s just a matter of going online and looking at your closest options.”

Turner said enjoying nature can take any amount of time, from 15 minutes to a whole day, depending on a person’s availability.

“If you’re busy, even a quick 15-minute stop is nice just to take it all in and see what’s blooming and what birds are out,” she said. “Enjoying nature can be a long camping trip, or quick break. It can be anything you want it to be.”

The important thing when it comes to taking time to enjoy nature, she said, is to make time to return for another visit – but in a different way than the angry winter character in the meme.

“Look up a conservation area you want to explore, bring someone with you and just enjoy the fact that spring has arrived,” Turner said.

To find a conservation area near you, go online to www.mdc.mo.gov and click on the “Discover Nature” tab. Then click on “Places to Go”.