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Spring Weather and Easter Babies

March 22, 2013

This little cottontail visited our backyard, here in Nevada, to soak up some sun on a cold winter's day!

Credit: Cindy Joyce
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It’s spring. Have you seen a few pictures of lambs, bunnies and chicks?

It’s because spring provides the best weather and conditions for the animals in our latitudes to give birth. Science shows increasing ties between weather and reproduction.

It’s spring! Time for critters to reproduce.

It’s not just warming that encourages springtime babies. Even air pressure has an effect! University of Arkansas scientists report that spring calves tend to be born when barometric (air) pressure is high!

High air pressure discourages rainfall (think “high and dry”). Calves born when the pressure is high are more likely to have some healthy dry weather before they have to deal with cold springtime rains and snow. (Can you tell I’ve been spending a lot of time among cattle raisers this month!)

Spring calves tend to be born when the air pressure is high.

For most grazing animals, spring is the time when the weather is warmer and food is becoming plentiful. Middle latitude animals born in spring have the best chance of survival. Tropical animals, where food is easily available all year round, are born during any season. For most middle latitude animals, it is a delicate balance between being born late enough to avoid the last snow storm and early enough to be well developed to face the rigors of fall and winter.

This correlation between babies and spring have made them Easter symbols, symbols of rebirth and hope. Have you noticed the pictures of lambs, chicks and bunnies festooning your local stores?

Of course, one Easter symbol, the rabbit, does not restrain its reproduction to springtime. So why are Easter Bunnies decorating everything? One reason is that rabbits can conceive one litter while still pregnant with another. European superstition, not knowing this, believed that rabbits were giving virgin birth. So rabbits became a symbol of Virgin Mary! At the same time, one of the first signs of spring in Europe, was the rabbits leaving their burrows and “frolicking”. So the long-earred critters became the symbol of springtime, fertility, Mother Mary and rebirth. Enter the Easter Bunny.

Medieval Europe believed rabbits had virgin births, so bunnies became the symbol of Mary!

So if you are one of those people from Denver to the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic States that are being hit by spring snow, remember—springtime warmth and Easter are coming. As you shovel snow, dream of chicks, lambs and bunnies—and yummy chocolate bunnies!

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Evelyn Browning Garriss, historical climatologist, blogger, writer for The Old Farmer's Almanac, and editor of The Browning Newsletter, has advised farmers, businesses, and investors worldwide on upcoming climate events and their economic and social impact for the past 21 years.

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Comments

Spring has been late in Asia,

By Sil in Corea

Spring has been late in Asia, too. It's probably the effect of the - NAO, again. I usually see magnolia buds starting to open around March 17th, but they stayed snug in their fuzzy wraps until the 30th, this year. It's the same with forsythia, apple and cherry blossoms. But, as of April 9th, everything is blooming at once! We had 2 days over 10 C (50 F), a rainy day, then two more warm and windy days. That's all it took for every tree and bush to go crazy, trying to make up for lost time.

A small added factor in our late spring was the Chinese smoke and dust cutting our sunlight. The dust? Much of northern China is apparently trying to become part of the Gobi Desert. They really need to plant trees as windbreaks, as was done in the Great Plains states after the Dust Bowl.

All my years I had never

By RedRedWine59

All my years I had never heard that rabbits could conceive a second litter while still pregnant....it's no wonder that there are so many of them around! Poor momma rabbits, though. I have to say that my garden plants wish they would stick to what the other animals do for amounts of young ones. I think lambs are about the most precious looking babies there are. I lived on a farm that had lambs every year and they would actually play a running game with each other. They would see who could get to the other end of the pen first. As I watched, I noticed that the ones that were a bit older were doing a bit of cheating though, they would start out a bit further from the fence than the younger ones, and of course get to the other side first, where they again stopped a bit short of the fence for the return trip. They would all wait for everyone to get there before starting for the other end, but the littler ones weren't seeing that the older ones had a big advantage. lol

A few friends of mine raise

By sjaime908

A few friends of mine raise sheep on their farm and it looks like there will be some new born lambs come April! Here in New Mexico the weather is beautiful. I live just south of Santa Fe as well. If you have ever been to New Mexico, it is a hot spot for raising springtime cattle. The reason why is because we have plenty of sunshine and sunshine is what the springtime babies love

We are also New Mexicans and

By Evelyn Browning...

We are also New Mexicans and are seeing wobbly-legged calves and baby pronghorn antelopes on the grasslands. Meanwhile, "virgin" wild rabbits are out in the front yard every morning.

My grass and trees are still

By Denise Ginther

My grass and trees are still dormant and we have patches of snow on the ground, it looks as if its the heart of winter but its almost April! I have animal friends that like to come visit me every spring and summer. I have possums, bears and raccoon buddies during the warm months but I havent been seeing them around this year. Its as if mother nature still has her calender sitting on February. Im sure the animals are ready for spring also. I wouldn't think they'd still be hibernating in March, right?
My relatives like to pick on me because I have animals that just LOVE my yard. Thats why I call them my friends! They'll come around soon :) Winter will eventually lose the battle

Brrrr! Fortunately

By Evelyn Browning...

Brrrr! Fortunately hibernating is largely regulated by temperature -- so they are likely to continue to sleep until it warms up.
Like you, I have wild animals that love my yard, including a coyote that goes after my fallen apples. It is always fun seeing them.

I am having 3 babies this

By GeorgeB

I am having 3 babies this spring! Or, should I say my horses are! We plan horse births so that the colts are big enough to show and breed at the right time.

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