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Phenology - May 2014

By Kelly Amoth, Interpretive Naturalist

The April phenology calendar was full of events as we finally began to shift out of winter and into spring. There were still a few days with the word SNOW written down, but I'm crossing my fingers that we are done with all the white stuff until next winter! Here are a few things we are looking forward to seeing at Warner this month:

  • We have very few species of wildflowers in our woods, and the blooms don't always last very long due to deer browse, so we really look forward to seeing a few flowers while we can. Rue anemone and bloodroot are already blooming. Trillium leaves are up, and when the flowers emerge we will have to race the deer to get a photo before they are eaten. We're also looking forward to seeing our yellow ladyslipper bloom and seeing the jack in the pulpit come up.
  • Our first day of spring bird banding was on Monday the 5th, and it was a big day. We banded 15 species of birds, including many warblers that we don't usually catch in our mist nets. Sixty-eight birds in total were banded by the end of the day. If you haven't put out your feeders yet, make sure to get them out. Many of the migrants are making their way back to Minnesota. We saw our first Baltimore oriole last week, and there are reports that the hummingbirds are almost back, too, so it's time to get out the grape jelly and sugar water!
  • With all the recent rains, our woods have a few smaller ponds than normal, which is great for all the frogs that are singing non-stop right now. Most of the frogs are already singing, but the tree frogs and toads should begin sometime this month.

Keep up with our latest phenology sightings and let us know what you're seeing where you live by following us on Twitter @WarnerNature.

What is phenology?

Phenology is the study and science of appearances and how they change over the seasons. The word itself is related to the word phenomenon. Think of phenology as recording and studying the natural phenomenon that occur around us every day.

Phenology can be as easy as recording what day you see birds returning to your feeders each year or when you see flowers blooming but make no mistake, phenology is serious science. By studying phenology we can better understand how the earth changes. Phenology records going back hundreds of years for the same location have even supported global warming research by showing that spring is arriving earlier than it used to historically.

At Warner Nature Center, groups help us fill out our phenology calendar each year and naturalists enter the data into a computer database.