Spring, summer, fall, winter -- the seasons of the
temperate zone are perhaps more familiar to many people than the dry and wet seasons of the tropical forests. Temperate forests change
even more noticeably with the time of year. Snow-covered bare branches and frigid temperatures make a northern forest in winter look quite
different than during the few short weeks of summer, when plant and animal activity are at their peak.
Below left and right: The same Douglas maple tree in early spring, with leaf buds, and in late spring, with leaves about half of their eventual size. Photos by Maya Walters.
|While most flowers bloom during the spring, plant growth peaks during the summer. Insects are most abundant in this season, as are the insect-eaters, including many species of songbirds which migrate to the northern forests from their warmer winter habitats. In most cases, these birds come north to breed, so they are not only catching insects for themselves but also their newly hatched chicks. Some birds that do not eat insects at other times of the year still feed heavily on them during this season, and in many cases, both predator and prey have evolved defenses such as camouflage.|
|Fruit ripens mostly in the fall, just as migrating birds are beginning to fly south to sub-tropical and tropical forests for the winter. The broad-leaved trees in all northern temperate forests are deciduous, and every fall they shed their leaves. Many tree species such as maples, birches, and aspens put on impressive displays of color as their leaves turn from green to red before falling to the ground -- a sight which attracts many tourists every year.|
[temperate forests] [plants] [insects] [birds] [camouflage] [pollen] [fruit] [tourism]
view the condensed version of the seasons article for faster printing/reading
return to the forests through time article