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Vernal Equinox

Natural Events

Peec throughout the year

A dark-colored salamander with bright yellow spots with its head toward the upper right


  • Beginning in March, the alternating pattern of freezing nights and sunny thawing days cause sap to rise in sugar maple trees.  Red squirrels know the sugar maple’s sweet secret…look for their teeth marks in the bark. 
  • During the second week of March, migratory birds are returning.  Look for Canada geese, blackbirds, bluebirds, robins, flickers, phoebes, and the many species of raptors that fill the skies. 
  • During the third week of March, take some time at dusk to watch the unusual and entertaining evening courtship ritual of the woodcock.  The nasal “peeeent” call of the woodcock accompanies their dramatic display. 
  • The warm rains bring out thousands of amphibians.  Spotted salamanders, wood frogs, spring peepers, green frogs, and American toads all migrate from the thawing forest soil to their watery birthplaces to breed.    
A bald eagle, facing left, perched on the tip of a broken tree, with snowy mountains in the background


  • Resurfacing reptiles greet the warmth of spring.  Look for painted turtles, garter snakes, and black racers all basking in open sunlight.  
  • During the middle of April, millions of shad leave the Atlantic Ocean and return to the Delaware River and other coastal rivers to spawn.  During this amazing migration, the shadbush or downy serviceberry begins to bloom with masses of white flowers. 
  • On warm April days, thousands of hawks, falcons, eagles, and vultures fill the skies.  These raptors ride the thermals of rising warm air as they return from their southern wintering grounds. 
  • By the last week in April, the spring ephemerals are growing out of the thawing ground.  These colorful woodland flowers include hepatica, trailing arbutus, bloodroot, spring beauty, trout lily, Dutchman’s breeches, red trillium, and over a dozen species of violets. 
A green frog, facing to the left, sitting in a muddy area


  • Look for gypsy moth caterpillars, tent caterpillars, Swallowtail butterflies, and Luna moths.  The caterpillars hatch just in time to feed on the fresh new tree and shrub foliage.  
  • Insects are also back in full force and the hungry songbirds returning from their wintering grounds eat them up.  These tropical migrants fill the air with their melodic calls.  
  • The beaches of Delaware Bay are taken over by thousands of horseshoe crabs that come ashore to mate and lay eggs.  The eggs provide food for migrating shorebirds. 
  • Late breeding amphibians can be heard at the end of May.  Listen for the green frog, gray tree frog, Fowler’s toad, and bullfrog.  The gray tree frog and bullfrog both produce exceptionally loud calls. 

PEEC Events

View our Calendar Page to see programs available at PEEC during the spring season.   

Summer Solstice

Natural Events

Peec throughout the year

A small bird with yellow head and chest, and brown wings, perched on a person's finger


  • During the first week of June, look for painted turtles and snapping turtles that have left the water to dig their nests and lay eggs.  Many of the eggs are dug up by predators. 
  • Mountain laurel blooms of pink and white flowers appear in the well-drained soils of woodlands, just before the beginning of summer.  This flower was chosen to be Pennsylvania’s state flower in 1933.   
  • Male songbirds are actively singing throughout June.  Their songs are used to establish territories and attract mates.   
  • There are 20 species of firefly (a.k.a. lightning bug) and their average lifespan is only one week.  Female fireflies do not fly, but produce light to attract mates. 
A yellow and black tiger-striped butterfly per


  • In the beginning of July, butterflies emerge from their chrysalises to eat the sweet nectar of summer wildflowers.  Butterflies bask in the sunshine because their bodies need to be at least 80ºF to fly. 
  • As July progresses, gypsy moths begin to emerge from their brown pupae.  Only male gypsy moths fly because the females are too heavy with eggs.  The females attract males by secreting pheromones. 
  • Look for blueberries, huckleberries, raspberries, blackberries, and dewberries. These bushes are low growing and accessible to wildlife, making their seeds easily dispersed. 
  • As July ends, the chorus of cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids can be heard.  The songs are produced by the rubbing and vibrating of wings and legs. Like most noises in nature, the calls attract mates and establish territories. 
Two tadpoles hanging on an aquatic plant


  • As summer comes to a close, millions of shorebirds head south.  Over twenty different species pass through our region during the fall migration, including the solitary sandpiper. 
  • The second week of August begins the season of the spiders.  Look for webs in the fields and forests as many different spider species mate and lay eggs.  In the ponds, fishing spiders are active, preying on tadpoles, salamanders, and very small fish. 
  • Search for mushrooms after a late summer rain.  Enjoy the diversity, but do not eat them unless a professional has properly identified them as being edible. Many species are toxic.   
  • During the last week of August, over twenty different species of snakes give birth.  Baby snakes are completely independent at birth.  As summer comes to an end, they must find a place to hibernate.  Many snakes will hibernate together in one den. 

PEEC Events

View our Calendar Page to see programs available at PEEC during the summer season.   

Autumnal Equinox

Natural Events

Peec throughout the year

Close-up of a sunflower with a bee climbing on it


  • The beginning of fall triggers the migration of warblers, vireos, thrushes, and other songbirds to their tropical winter destinations — Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands. 
  • As September continues, the raptors join the migrating birds. Thousands of broad-winged hawks, eagles, and other birds of prey head south for the winter. 
  • Monarch butterflies begin their long migration to Mexico.  These insects may cover up to 80 miles per day, traveling 10-30 mph, as they float on the breezes. 
  • By the end of September, the fall wildflowers have started to bloom.  Beautiful gold, white, and purple flowers bloom on asters, goldenrods, sunflowers, and daisies. 
Clusters of red berries on a green stem


  • With winter migration and hibernation approaching, animals compete for the high fat and carbohydrate concentrations of berries and nuts.   
  • Cooler temperatures and shorter days cause the green chlorophyll to disappear from deciduous leaves, allowing bright, colorful pigments to emerge. 
  • Snakes, turtles, frogs, and salamanders sound their retreat during the month of October.  Retreating to underground dens, these animals have adapted to the cold of winter by entering a state of dormancy or suspended animation. 
  • At the end of October, over 30 species of waterfowl begin to migrate south.  Listen and look for Canada geese flying in a “V” formation that decreases wind resistance for the entire flock.
A spotted fawn and female deer looking at the camera


  • The largest raptors round up the fall migration.  Northern harriers, goshawks, red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, and turkey vultures fly south for the winter. 
  • After the fall leaves have fallen to the ground, billions of microorganisms, earthworms, sow bugs, and millipedes feed on the fallen leaves. Nutrients are returned to the soil through their droppings.   
  • During third week of November, the white-tailed deer breeds.  They give birth in May or June, often to twins.  The white-tailed deer is the state mammal of Pennsylvania.   
  • During the last week of November, birds from Canada migrate to our area for the winter.  Look for purple finches, evening grosbeaks, fox sparrows, and tree sparrows at your feeders.

PEEC Events

View our Calendar Page to see programs available at PEEC during the autumn season.   

Winter Solstice

Natural Events

Peec throughout the year

A partially ice-covered river with mountains in the background and leafless trees on the right bank


  • Animals have many adaptations to survive the winter.  Some, like weasels and snow shoe hares, have white fur to act as camouflage in the snow.  Ruffed grouse bury into deep snow to stay warm. 
  • “False hibernators” like skunks, raccoons, and black bears enter into a shallow winter sleep.  They maintain a nearly normal body temperature, but a much reduced metabolism. 
  • Our winter resident songbirds adapt by producing up to 50% more feathers.  By fluffing up their feathers, warm air is trapped and helps to keep them warm.   
  • During the last week of December, enjoy the winter solstice.  This cyclical natural event marks the lengthening of the days.   
Close-up of a black bear walking and looking to the right


  • Bald eagles (resident pairs and visitors from up north) congregate near open water.  Visit lakes, rivers, and reservoirs to see them feeding on fish and carrion (carcasses). 
  • Pennsylvania is home to more than 8,000 black bears.  The females mate every other year.  During the second week of January, they give birth to 2-5 cubs in their winter dens. 
  • Winter is not completely devoid of insect life.  Snow fleas are found in large colonies near the bases of tree trunks and stonefly nymphs live in icy streams. 
  • The great horned owl begins nesting in late January.  Known as “flying tigers”, these large owls prefer deciduous forests with hemlocks and white pines. 
A large, green leafy skunk cabbage


  • Some mammals, like woodchucks and bats, experience true hibernation. Their body temperature drops to near freezing and their heartbeat slows way down, saving vital energy reserves. 
  • Many mammals mate in the cold of winter.  Skunks, raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, red foxes, and gray foxes all synchronize the birth of their young with the fresh, available foods of spring. 
  • Longer hours of sunlight trigger the winter resident songbirds.  Males begin singing to attract females and stake out their territories. Listen for black-capped chickadees, cardinals, mockingbirds, and finches.  
  • During the last week in February, the first and slinkiest flower of the spring breaks through the frozen ground. Skunk cabbage melts its way up through the ice and snow by producing its own heat (up to 72º F). 

PEEC Events

View our Calendar Page to see programs available at PEEC during the winter season.   

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