This week more reptiles and amphibians are becoming active. The musical trill of American Toads can now be heard from some ponded wetlands. Toads typically breed when water temperatures are over 60⁰ F but may be heard singing from late April until mid-summer.
Bird’s-foot violets are starting to bloom in prairie areas. Bird’s-foot violets can be distinguished from the similar prairie violets by their protruding orange stamens which resemble a beak.
Red-headed Woodpeckers are known to be aggressive toward other birds, often seen chasing the much larger Pileated Woodpeckers where they co-exist. They become even more aggressive during this time of year, particularly with other Red-headed Woodpeckers, as they compete for nesting habitat and mates. Red-headed Woodpeckers are an iconic species of oak savannas. Steep population declines after the mid-1900’s were primarily due to habitat loss. Prescribed burning for oak savanna restoration creates more openings in the forest canopy and dead trees which are critical components for species recovery.