A View From Our Side: Looking For That First Robin

Written by: Rod Wilson

Here it is, the first week in April, and this weekend is Easter Sunday. Looking out my back window, there is very little bare grass, and if the weather forecast is correct, we will have had yet another spring snowstorm, or even stronger than that, they are saying blizzard! Not talking a trip to the local Dairy Queen here; 4-8 inches of snow is possible, 50+ MPH winds and just horrible conditions for a couple of days.

When we were kids, my Mom used to mark our calendar on the date that the first robin arrived in Maddock, North Dakota. Mom was an outdoors type, lots of gardens, trees and bushes in our yard, so in general I had to believe that our yard would be the destination for robins headed back to their nesting homes in North Dakota. So, you ask, did you continue the springtime ritual of marking your calendar at the first site of our red breasted friends? The answer is yes, and last year we had robins in our yard a full week before the April 12th to April 14th snowstorm. In fact, there were reports of robins in Minot as early as the 31st of March!

However, as of Tuesday, April 4th when this article is being published, there have been no robins, or reports of robins. Maybe they (the robins) have a better handle on spring weather this year. Who knows where those early arriving robins spent the April snowstorm of 2022.

A friend of mine explained it this way; “There has been a continuous jet stream that has kept the upper part of the United States in colder than average temperatures. Once the robins flew into those colder than average wind currents, they would hesitate their migration.” So if that is true, next Tuesday, April 17th, it is supposed to be around 55 degrees. Let’s mark our calendars and see if that is the day they make it to North Dakota, and start shoveling out like the rest of us.

The 95 Day Window
If you brought an RV with you, or in general you are an active camping person, we want to inform you of the 95 day window. Most easily explained, if you want to reserve a campground space at a North Dakota State Park, your opportunity comes 95 days before you a planning your camping trip. Normal summer weekends fill up fast. Holiday weekends? Be ready at 12:01 AM exactly 95 days before the first day of your trip for the more popular state parks like Lake Metigoshe, Fort Stevenson south of Garrison and Lake Sakakawea near Pick City, North Dakota.

There are many other camping areas that do not have reserved sites, and they are a on a first come-first served basis. For tent campers, there are a lot of opportunities as these sites don’t fill up quite as fast.
Also, check out the many cabins and yurts on the ND State Parks web site. Some are completely furnished and have indoor running water and bathroom facilities.

One Extra Day
Just got word from Bottineau Winter Park that they will be open for one more day, this Saturday, April 15th. The snow conditions are already awesome, and there is a good chance they will add an inch or two this week. So if you have procrastinated on heading north to the Lake Metigoshe area and Bottineau Winter Park, maybe Saturday is your day. As usual rentals for both the ski hill and tubing hill are available, and the snack bar will be open and ready to serve lunch.

Best Kept Secrets
Eventually spring will arrive, and North Dakota will be filled with wildflowers and wild grasses. In general, look south of Lake Sakakawea, and west of the Missouri River to the grasslands and badlands of Southwest North Dakota. There is a pamphlet “Prairie Wildflowers and Wild Grasses” on the ND Game and Fish website. It can easily be downloaded to your smart phone for identifying the many species that are native to North Dakota. In our area the sure sign of spring is the Prairie Crocus, a beautiful purple, yellow and white wildflower found in area pastures and on hillsides of river and stream valleys.

Today’s Chuckle
Why have an identity crisis? That’s why we carry driver’s licenses.

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