Signs of Spring

Sunday, March 20 was the vernal equinox -- the first day of spring -- when the northern hemisphere of our planet begins to tilt toward the sun, bringing warmer weather to billions. Now people, plants, and animals are beginning to emerge from their winter modes -- stepping outside, blooming, and otherwise welcoming the sunshine. These photos show glimpses of the season from around the world. [37 photos total]

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Orchids open in the early morning sunshine at Royal Horticultural Society's garden at Wisley on April 12, 2011 in Wisley, England. There are 600 varieties of Orchid on display and The Glasshouse will host a meeting of the Orchid Society of Great Britain Show on April 30, 2011. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #
A man sunbathes in Hyde Park on April 6, 2011 in London, England, when much of Britain recorded the hottest day of the year so far. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
Sandhill cranes take flight near Gibbon, Nebraska on March 23, 2011. About half a million sandhill cranes stop along an 80-mile stretch of the Platte River for three to four weeks each spring in March and April before continuing their journey to Canada, Alaska and Siberia. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) #
A newborn lamb plays among ewes after being released into a field for the first time at Barracks Farm on April 1, 2011 in Fetcham, England. Three hundred ewes are lambing at the farm owned by the Conisbee family, which supplies their own butcher shops in nearby Horsley. The business has been run by generations of Conisbees for more than 250 years. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #
A daisy floats in a rain barrel on April 4, 2011 in Kaufbeuren, southern Germany. (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/AFP/Getty Images) #
A spring snowstorm blankets the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Saturday, April 9, 2011, in northern Arizona. Much of Arizona was hit by a late winter storm Saturday that brought rain to the Phoenix metro area and snow to the Grand Canyon and the mountains around Flagstaff. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Rob Schumacher) #
Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera reaches for a baseball while signing autographs before an MLB spring training game with the New York Yankees in Tampa, Florida, March 29, 2011. (Reuters/Steve Nesius) #
A visitor enjoys an ice cream cone on the seafront on April 9, 2011 in Brighton, England. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #
A man and boys walk on a street covered with rose-petals spread by wholesale dealers for dry them to supply in market, Sunday, April 10, 2011 in outskirt of Lahore, Pakistan. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary) #
A worker takes a nap surrounded by ducklings at a duck farm on the outskirts of Jiaxing, Zhejiang province April 5, 2011. (Reuters/Stringer) #
An effigy burns during the finale of the Fallas festival, which welcomes spring and honors Saint Joseph's Day, in Valencia, Spain, in the early hours of March 20, 2011. Fallas are giant elaborate sculptures and effigies made of wood and plastic which are burned at the end of the week-long spectacle of processions, fireworks, music and dancing. (Reuters/Heino Kalis) #
A rotation of a cloud is seen over Merrill, Wisconsin. on Monday, April 10, 2011. Spring thunderstorms with strong winds, hail and tornadoes injured three people and damaged buildings, power lines and trees in Wisconsin. (AP Photo/The Wausau Daily Herald, Samual L. Hall) #
Large trees are seen snapped in two in Pulaski, Virginia, Saturday, April 9, 2011, after a tornado ripped through the area Friday night, causing severe damage to homes in the Pulaski and Draper areas of Pulaski County. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Kyle Green) #
A brick wall with window lies on the ground in Pulaski, Virginia, Saturday, April 9, 2011 after a tornado ripped through the Pulaski and Draper areas of Pulaski County Friday evening. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Kyle Green) #
Lightning flashes across the sky during a severe storm Sunday, April 10, 2011, on the northside of Appleton, Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Post-Crescent, Dan Powers) #
Snowplows are used to clear floodwater from Interstate 29 on April 11, 2011 near Argusville, North Dakota. Although the Red River crested in nearby Fargo on Saturday at 38.75 feet, the fourth-highest flood on record, areas north of the city were still experiencing near-record flooding. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #
A barn is surrounded by floodwater from the Red River on April 11, 2011 near Fargo, North Dakota. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #
As a warm front travels through the Midwest over the weekend, a tree awaits its foliage on Saturday, April 9, 2011, in rural Montcalm County, Michigan. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) #
The London Eye rises above daffodils blooming in the sun in London March 19, 2011. (Reuters/Luke MacGregor) #
Bees, partly loaded with pollen, return to their hive on March 21, 2011 in Frankfurt/Main, central Germany. (Frank Rumpenhorst/AFP/Getty Images) #
A competitor guides her reindeer during a reindeer race at the Festival of the North in Murmansk April 3, 2011. The annual festival takes place so that local residents of Russia's north can welcome spring and mark the end of the long winter with various winter sports competitions. (Reuters/Andrei Pronin) #
A woman blows bubbles toward a child on a sunny afternoon in Hong Kong on April 9, 2011. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images) #
Rosa Salvaje, a jaguar, and her one-week-old cub look on at the National Zoo in Managua, Nicaragua, Thursday, April 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #
People enjoy the sunny spring weather on April 7, 2011 near the Eiffel tower in Paris. (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images) #
Boys jump in the water on the first sunny day of spring in Malmo, Sweden, April 2, 2011. Temperature in Malmo reached 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit), signaling the end of an unusually long and hard winter. (Reuters/Johan Nilsson) #
People stand in line to climb the Pyramid of the Sun in the pre-hispanic city of Teotihuacan on the outskirts of Mexico City March 20, 2011. Thousands of Mexicans and tourists gather in Teotihuacan every year to welcome the spring equinox. (Reuters/Claudia Daut) #
Brad Snead walks past melting ice on the Cook Inlet beach, Saturday, March 26, 2011, in Kenai, Alaska, while looking for agates. (AP Photo/Peninsula Clarion, M. Scott Moon) #
Cherry trees bloom in view of the Jefferson Memorial during the National Cherry Blossom Festival along the Tidal Basin in Washington, April 2, 2011. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) #
A baby chick is pictured in this photo from the Legare Farms near Charleston, South Carolina. Legare Farms has tapped the growing agriculture tourism market, launching a "Rent-A-Chick" program just in time for Easter. (Reuters/Helen Legare/Legare Farms) #
Kurt Frieden's hot air balloon is pulled through a rapeseed field for landing near the city of Geneva, Switzerland, on April 10, 2011. Thirty balloons took part in the 5th Montgolfiades balloon festival which takes place from April 8 to 10. The balloons took off in various parks in the city center and landed in the nearby countryside. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse) #
A Canada goose nests in an urn as a deer keeps a watchful eye at Forest Lawn cemetery in Buffalo, New York April 8, 2011. For at least four days, the buck stood guard near the nest of the goose as she sat on her eggs inside a large urn at the cemetery, home to the remains of President Millard Fillmore and rock icon Rick James. (Reuters/Doug Benz) #
A couple walk underneath blossom in Greenwich Park in London April 10, 2011. (Reuters/Toby Melville) #
Ray Fisher jogs around a horse track with Faith N Moon, left, and Pacific Mariner, right, during the mild spring weather in Akron, New York, Thursday, April 7, 2011. (AP Photo/David Duprey) #
Luna Lutz visits at a tree with 9,800 Easter eggs at the garden of pensioner couple Christa and Volker Kraft in Saalfeld, Germany, Monday, April 11, 2011. The Kraft family have decorated their tree for Easter for more than forty years. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer) #
A lamb sits in the shade of a tree among daffodils at the Hall Farm in Stratford St Mary, eastern England April 10, 2011. (Reuters/Chris Helgren) #
A swan swims in the River Thames on April 7, 2011 in Windsor, England. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
People relax on a warm spring day on Hampstead Heath in London, Sunday, April 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) #

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