|Walking through the woods on a warm, fragrant April day can reveal a secret world where animals, plants, and insects are awakening to their never-ending cycle of life. In the meadow before the woods,
a woodchuck (Marmota monax), who woke recently from a long hibernation, enjoys the mild sunshine and the tender new grass shoots. His fur is a rich brown streaked with grayish hairs, and he may grow to more than two feet in length.
In front of him, a spectacular mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), one of the season's earliest butterflies, floats lazily beside a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). The mourning cloak's maroon
wings are bordered in creamy yellow and sparked with electric blue spots. The trees looming in the background are still bare, although some of the willow (Salix spp.) branches have turned a light yellow-green and there is a pinkish
haze where the fattening tree buds are showing signs of life.