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Poor Will's Almanack: March 6 - 12, 2018

The Ducks-Scouting-for-Nests Moon wanes throughout the week, entering its final quarter on March 9 and reaching gentle apogee, its position farthest from Earth, two days later. Rising near midnight and setting in the morning, this Moon moves overhead throughout the darkest hours before daylight.

And if you spring your clocks ahead an hour for Daylight Saving Time just before dawn on the 11th, you might see the Moon rising in the east, not far from Jupiter and Mars in the southeast.

When you go walking in the dark before the Sun comes up you may hear the dense chirping chatter of the robin mating chorus, then the sharp call of the song sparrow, the gurgling of the starlings, the clucking of grackles and the soft moaning of the mourning doves. And even though the weather may be cold and gray, there is no end of other events taking place nearby. The story never seems to end.

Male red-winged blackbirds (that arrived about two weeks ago) sing in the swamps as females join them in their nesting areas. In the woods and towns, crows pair off and select nesting sites. Purple martins arrive. Winter juncos depart. Peregrine falcons lay their eggs.  Bald eagle chicks hatch. White tundra swans land along Lake Erie. The migration period for Canadian Geese peaks. Ducks arrive from the South to scout for nesting places in their most attractive mating plumage.

Pussy willows are often completely open now, a traditional signal for the end of tree-tapping-for-maple-syrup time. Wild violet leaves start to grow as the day's length approaches eleven and a half hours. Aster leaves appear. Horseradish leaves  are usually an inch long this week. Virginia bluebells emerge from the ground on the hillsides.

The midseason crocus and earliest daffodils come into bloom. Nettle tops are ready to pick for greens. Chickweed and dandelions flower in the woods. Honeysuckle leaves open. Wolf spiders hatch in the sun. Henbit blossoms. Day lily foliage is four to six inches tall. Buckeye buds are swelling. Raspberry and rose bushes sprout new foliage. Wild onions are getting lanky. And sometimes a groundhog will appear by the side of the road, calmly eating fresh grass as you drive by. The first chipmunk may appear from under your porch. And the story has hardly begun.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of Early Spring. In the meantime, try to get up just a little early to catch the first of the robin chorus. It is telling you that so much more is happening.

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