Efforts to make long-term weather predictions through the behaviour of rodents fell into discord early Thursday, as groundhogs in Canada and the U.S. made conflicting calls about the arrival of spring. 

Folklore has it that if a groundhog sees its shadow when it emerges from its burrow on Groundhog Day, held every February, there will be six more weeks of winter.

If the groundhog doesn't see its shadow, then tradition says spring is on the way.

In the east, there appeared to be consensus among some of the better-known oracular rodents that we were in for an early spring. 

Groundhog Day Canada 20150202

Wiarton Willie, seen here in 2016, 'predicted' an early end to winter on Thursday. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Ontario's Wiarton Willie and Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam failed to spot their shadows, according to their handlers, contradicting Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil, who predicted more cold weather. 

"Wiarton Willie sees no shadow in sight," an announcer, clad in a colonial-era coat and tricorner hat, told a cheering crowd — after hours of pre-prediction celebrations that included fireworks, music, dancing and consultation between the mayor and her "shadow cabinet."

"He says early spring. Will his prediction be right?" 

But, depending on how loosely one defines "groundhog," the vote swung the other way as the sun came up over the rest of Canada, where Winnipeg Wyn was said to have spotted her shadow.

Wyn's forecast was backed by those of Alberta's Balzac Billy and Ottawa Ollie — which are both people in groundhog costumes — and the hand puppet Manitoba Merv. 

With files from The Canadian Press