Spring sounds start in earnest this month and pick up momentum in April, and the angle of the sun’s rays dictate the timing of nature’s canorous and at times cacophonous timetable.

One way or the other, lots of spring harmonies and disharmonies catch our ears by mid-March, and one common critter fills the evening twilight with pleasant sounds that shout spring — the American woodcock.

As the sun sinks below the tree line, male woodcock sit on the ground in field edges or clear-cuts and make a buzzing, metallic “peent” call to attract a mate — a sound strangely similar to a cicada on a hot summer day.

The amorous male launches itself 250 to 300 feet into the air before spiraling and looping on its descent back to the same spot where he flushed. In the dive, air rushing through wing feathers creates a melodious twittering.

If his antics draw a female, she arrives in the near distance and makes a soft “tuko” call, difficult to hear unless birdwatchers have sneaked close to where the male has set up for this breeding ritual.

(Observers can get close to the action by furtively moving toward the male’s launching spot as he ascends to its apex before the acrobatic dive. Make sure to stand still during the descent and the sitting and calling.)

Folks can catch the show in old fields or clear-cuts growing back with alders and poplar. Yes, finding a woodcock singing ground is that simple.

When melting snow creates vernal pools in late March or early April, wood frogs start mating calls — a raspy “quack” that resembles a female black duck. These vocalizations pick up at dusk and continue into the night, but wood frogs sometime call all day

These light-tan amphibians sport a black mask like Zorro and legs with darker bands, and several calling at once make a pleasant chorus.

In my humble opinion, spring peepers make the loveliest of symphonies in the evening twilight with their high-pitched, melodious “preep.” However, it’s difficult to distinguish that exact syllable, when hundreds call at the same time. For many ears, it sounds like “peep.”

For Mainers into nature, though, nothing symbolizes the new season better than a butterfly, called mourning cloak. When folks in the know see them airborne in weak flights, they realize spring has truly sprung.

In the cold winter, these butterflies survive as adults under loose bark. As snow melts in shaded spots during March’s first warm days, the adult flutters out and stays close to the ground, a poor flier. It’s the year’s first butterfly, though, so nature lovers rejoice.

If a startled mourning cloak flies close enough to observers with good ears, the snapping sound of the wings is readily apparent.

Mourning cloaks walk headfirst down tree trunks to drink water and sap from broken limbs, common in early spring. Winter ice and wind rank as one of nature’s main ways of pruning trees. The result may look destructive but create a well-balanced forest that nourishes many life forms — like this butterfly species.

“Mourning” refers to this butterfly’s dark-brown, purplish wings — a common color for funerals dresses fashionable in the 18th and 19th centuries. Like many descriptive, color symbols from pod-auger days, the origin no longer applies in the modern world.

Mourning cloaks live 10 months, a very long-lived butterfly species. This longevity tidbit caught my eye in an entomology book and stuck. Transcendentalism may be alive and well in New England, but a book surely helps fill gaps that firsthand observation misses.

Dandelions appeal to two senses to advertise spring — sight and taste: Dandelions often rank as spring’s first green in a sea of dead vegetation, and until World War II, digging this vitamin-laden spring meal had a huge following in Maine.

Folks often complain that dandelions taste bitter, and indeed, if harvesters wait too long before picking, this green has a definite bitterness. Dandelion greens first popping from the ground have a mild flavor, though.

If dandelions are older and bitter, country cooks may change the cooking water once or twice, which often overcooks the greens. So, late pickings may result in bitterness or overcooking — neither option good.

If folks new to dandelion meals want to give this ancient, honorable dish a try this year, find these dark-green veggies in March when they first pop through dry, dead grass. Butter and a little vinegar on young dandelions create a side dish that smacks of spring.

One truth about spring signs needs mentioning. All the predictable images of the new season make our hearts soar, and then one morning, we arise to a late snowstorm. It feels as if an acquaintance has died.

But then, within days, southwest winds have smells of the new season wafting across the state, and as poets might say, eternal thoughts of spring spring once again.

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