Groundhog Day & The Harbingers of Spring
The groundhog (Marmota monax) is also known as a woodchuck, whistle-pig or land-beaver in some places. However, the groundhog’s cousin who lives in the Jackson Hole mountainous area is a yellow-bellied marmot.
February 2nd is Groundhog Day where legend has it, if the groundhog sees his shadow, winter continues for another 6 weeks. Unlike lower elevations where snow dissipates quickly, in the Grand Teton and Yellowstone high country (Jackson Hole being 6,200 feet plus), winter continues on usually through March and April.
Luckily, there are other harbingers of spring in the Tetons to signal the coming change of seasons. One of the first signs of spring will be the return of birds. Spotting the glorious mountain bluebird in contrast to the white snow is a sure sign spring is on its way, and they’ll start appearing many times in March. Later in April osprey will return to the valley and their nests.
Midge (small fly) hatches will soon begin along the river banks, which in turn provide food for the new arrival of hungry birds. For the angling enthusiasts among us, it’s exciting to see the cutthroat trout rise for the 30-minute late winter midge hatch!
Matt Fagan, Buffalo Roam Tours Guide