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It’s in your nature: Nature’s beauty to brighten the season

It may be the “ugliest time” of the year.

No spring flowers yet, most of the birds have not started singing, and the forests have the same unimpressive looks since mid-November.

On top of that, this winter offered so little snow.

Snow cover at least seems to make the “woods” look more inviting. I thought it might be a good time to show a few pictures of prettier times in “Penn’s Woods.” I’ll dig out some pictures of some plants or animals that I think brighten up the surroundings. Maybe it will help us get through the next “not so pretty month” until April starts the show all over again. I Hope these photos help, and jump starts our anticipation to more wildlife activity and wonderful views that spring will soon bring.

That doesn’t mean I don’t get out there in these pre-spring months. I’m always looking for something while I’m poking around and I’ve learned that T.O.T. (time on task) gives me that chance to catch something new or different. So, maybe you can also “get out there.”

Test Your Outdoor Knowledge: Needle cast disease is killing many: A. Blue spruce; B. Douglas fir; C. Norway spruce; D. all of these

Last Week’s Trivia Answer: If your bluebird nest box contains a nest with feathers, it is not an Eastern bluebird nest. I’ve monitored hundreds and hundreds of bluebird nests and never found one with feathers. Tree swallows will travel great distances to find chicken feathers and they’ll line the nest with them.

Email Barry Reed at breed71@gmail.com

Not a very large member of the laurel family, sheep laurel colors the forest floors of much of the Pocono Plateau.
Blanketing much of northern Carbon County's woodlands, mountain laurels brighten the hillsides. But a closer look reveals the beauty of newly opened laurel flowers.
Most of you won't even need to leave your house to appreciate the male cardinal's brilliant red plumage. This male, crest erect, was intimidating another male near my feeders.
In full strut, a male turkey (gobbler) does his best to display every inch of his body to any prospective hens. They'll probably begin strutting their stuff in a couple of weeks. BARRY REED/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Five inches of beauty, the American redstart is a common breeding warbler found living close to water sources. It doesn't sit still long as it flies off a limb to snatch up a gnat or small flying insect. They'll be arriving here about the last week of April.
Maybe not as showy as many male birds, a 3-week-old fawn sure ranks high in the cutest list.
You won't have to wait until spring to enjoy this beauty. Male hooded mergansers are now arriving to some local lakes and streams displaying their plumage for potential mates.
A male redhead (aptly named) graces a local pond. Seen in good sunlight they are truly one of waterfowls' beauties. Additional photos appear on page A2.
Our nation's symbol, the bald eagle, still thrills me with every sighting. If not the most beautiful, it sure ranks as one of the most majestic of birds. This one was scanning the stream below the branch on which it was perched.
Appropriately named, the chestnut-sided warbler is another 5-inch warbler beauty. Grab your binoculars and take a walk from late April through July to see and hear them (especially in brushy undergrowth near hillside streams).
A male wood duck certainly ranks as one of the most beautiful of waterfowl. Check out local ponds, lakes, or even the Lehigh Canal as you take your nature walk there. I observed the first arrival on Feb. 13.