This Month at Shaw Nature Reserve
Birds and Blooms

The wetland parking lot expansion is complete, just in time to welcome additional visitors to enjoy all the spring sights and sounds of the wetland. The Nature Reserve is now open 8 a.m.–8 p.m. (last entry at 7 p.m.) through August 31. Due to limited parking and to protect the natural resources, advanced e-tickets are required for entry to the Nature Reserve at this time.

What's In Bloom
Spring is evident with all the buds bursting into bloom and the many bird species returning and passing through. Did you know that you can help migrating birds by planting native plants? Red buckeye trees (Aesculus pavia) typically bloom just in time to provide nectar for hummingbirds. You can view a red buckeye by hiking to the shelter in the home gardening area of the Whitmire Wildflower Garden.

Other trees in bloom that you will see nearby include the paw paw (Asimina triloba), serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), red bud (Cercis canadensis), and black cherry (Prunus serotina), to name a few. After looking up at the birds and blooms, take a look at the forest floor and you will see Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans), columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), wild ginger (Asarum canadense), Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum), golden ragwort (Packera aurea), Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), and blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna), plus many more.

Visit the trails passing by glades from the Trail House and you will see shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia), Indian paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea), and wild hyacinth (Camassia scilloides).

New this year, we will be offering two events focused on our historic daffodils. Join us all month long for Daffodil Days, where your admission grants you access to a self-guided trail about the history of the daffodils, a kids activity booklet, daffodil scavenger hunt, photo contest, and more.
Plan your visit to see spring blooms

Featured Trail
Almost every trail features fantastic springs blooms and wildlife in the spring. The start of spring brings many amphibians out at the wetland, and by the time April is upon us, there are blooms everywhere to see. Enjoy a five-mile hike to see all the spring blooms by following the route listed below.

  • Start at the Bascom House parking lot where restrooms are available and then enjoy a stroll through the Whitmire Wildflower Garden.
  • Continue onto Brush Creek Trail which can be reached by hiking the trails in the Whitmire Wildflower Garden down to the east side of the garden, which will take you through woods and prairie. Brush Creek Trail is marked with blue sticks that will help you navigate to the deer fence and over Brush Creek bridge or stepping stone and finally through the prairie.
  • When you arrive at the Trail House, you can rest in the shade of this open air pavilion or walk past it to the glade boardwalk which is just south of the Trail House. Here you will enjoy the view and Indian paintbrush and other early spring blooms. Retrace your steps and take a right just before the steps to the Trail House to hike along a glade, where hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) will greet you.
  • At the fork, keep right and head down the hill and slowly cross the spring.
  • You will reach a gravel road, which is Barn Road. Travel up the road and go downhill to the Bus Stop and wetland parking lot, where you can pause in the shade of the bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) trees and get a drink from your water bottle.
  • Continue on the road all the way back to Cypress Lake, where numerous daffodils will be blooming, and then end back at the Bascom House parking lot.

Check out other trails

The wetland is full of amphibians singing their breeding chorus. You can hear spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer), chorus frog (Pseudacris triseriata), leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens), cricket frog (Acris crepitans), and gray tree frogs (Hyla versicolor), while other species will begin their chorus soon.

Red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) will be arriving this month, and you can enjoy listening to their trill as they establish their territory. Brown creepers, brown thrashers, eastern phoebes, and other early migrants have been back since March and most of our migrating bird species will be passing through by the end of April. Eastern bluebirds have been at Shaw Nature Reserve all winter, but soon the indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea) will be arriving and two beautiful blue songbirds will be flitting around the prairie and Trail House areas.

Did You Know?
Investigation backpacks are available for purchase for ages 6–10 years old. These packs include books, activities, games, and much more. You can choose from a pack about owls and a pack focused on exploring outdoors.
Learn more and order packs