Ames Free Library

"Where the Community Connects"

A Glimpse of Nature - The Pace Quickens

March 18, 2022.


I will be offering “Trees in Early Spring” on Monday, March 21 at 2:30.  This 1-hour nature walk around the library’s property will provide guidance and practice in tree identification.  Learn some interesting facts about our local trees and develop skills to wow your friends.  

This program is suitable for adults and kids aged 10 and older.

Dress comfortably and expect some early spring mud.  Bring a hand lens and binoculars if you have them.  We will meet at the library entrance.  Now’s a good time to welcome spring and get to know some of your plant neighbors.  


“Nature’s Rhythms” Update

Spring bulbs continue to attract attention during week 2 of our “Nature’s Rhythms” activity.  Participants reported snowdrops, crocus, and mini daffodils in bloom near their homes.  

Courtesy:  D. Tai

We aren’t the only ones paying attention to these early blossoms.  Look who’s visiting the center flower.

Courtesy:  L. Vanrenen

On Wednesday, honey bees were making the rounds of the Ames Free Library’s crocus patch.  

Nearby, a swarm of very small flying insects hovered over the library’s intermittent stream.  Based on their behavior, they were probably a species of midge, an animal that develops at the bottom of waterways.  When the adults emerge, which they do quite early in the season, the males form a swarm to attract the attention of females. My swarm was approximately 18 inches in diameter and hovered just a few feet above the water.  They must act quickly, for the adult insects live for only a few days.  Despite their small size, both larval and adult midges are an important food source to “fish, aquatic insects, birds, and bats” according to Andres Ortega, an ecologist in Illinois.  Read more about this subject at  “I Spy Early Spring Insects.”

One of my favorite signs of spring was reported this week:  frog calls!  The high-pitched chirp of spring peepers has become very noticeable with the recent warm temperatures.  They can be heard at a variety of wetlands.  The much larger wood frogs have migrated to their vernal pools where the males are advertising for mates.  Often, both species sing at the same site, which can create quite a din.  In this brief video clip (28 seconds), the high pitched, musical peeper calls form the background.  They are punctuated by the wood frogs’ nasal quacks. Many years ago when I first heard their quacks, I was bewildered that such noisy “ducks” seemed invisible!

Hopefully, we’ll return to this subject before spring flies by.  In the meantime, take a look at “Spring Peepers,” a video in the Stepping Out series that I filmed in 2020.

This observation of frog calls is a good reminder to think outside the box.  Not all signs of spring are visual. Last night as I drove home, I smelled the spray of a skunk for the first time this year. If you have an observation to report from this past week, the deadline for week 2 is March 18 at midnight.  Submit your observations for March 19 thru 25 by completing this Google form.  

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Submitted by David Fairbanks on

I will try to attend. It sounds most interresting. David

Submitted by louis on

Yes, the first herald of spring, the resounding cry of life coming back, the peepers in full symphony

Submitted by Ferne Krajewski on

Hi admin, Your posts are always well-supported and evidence-based.

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