Signs of Spring

Phenology is the study of the seasonal changes found in nature. Below are my weekly notes which I began taking on March 10th, 2012. If you want to post some photos on this site, please visit and post them to the Old Naturalist Facebook page. Don’t forget to add any comments of signs of spring you have seen.

Illustration by Jeanette Dickinson        Photos by Lawrence Wade.

April 8. 2012

  1. Many yellow-rumped warblers in the cottonwoods and willows.
  2. First cabbage butterfly.
  3. First dandelions blooming on the south side of buildings.
  4. Red bud is blooming.
  5. Dutchman’s britches (spring wildflower) is blooming
  6. Wild leeks are full grown in the forest
  7. White oaks are flowering and leafing out (about 3 weeks early).
  8. June berries are blooming.
  9. Wild plum are in full bloom.
  10. Rue anemone, a spring wildflower,  is blooming.
  11. Male turkeys are gobbling and displaying.
  12. Wild ginger is blooming.
  13. goldfinches are turning yellow after being gray all winter.
  14. tree swallows
  15. Great blue heron
  16. water lilies emerging above the water
  17. First dragonflies
  18. Migrating vultures
  19. Migrating marsh hawk (harriers)
  20. turtles on a log
  21. bloodroot is blooming (spring wildflower)
  22.  Saw my first ground hog of the season, even though they have probably been out for a month.




Don’t forget to add anything new that you have seen or heard….



March 25, 2012

  1. Chorus frogs heard in large numbers in pond
  2. Wood frogs “cackling” in the ponds
    wood frog calling with inflated body sac
  3. Jim Ikhaml reported seeing a green heron
  4. Hooded mergansers on Lone Lake
  5. first thunderstorm of the season
  6. 1/2 inch of rain this week
  7. First Spring wildflowers blooming: Hepatica and Virginia bluebells
  8. crocuses blooming in neighbors yard
  9. harvested first dandelion greens of the spring
  10. honeysuckle bushes are totally leafed out
  11. First lawn mower
  12. red-bellied woodpeckers displaying
  13. “green tinge” of flowering trees covers the landscape

March 17, 2012

  1. Male robins calling
  2. Male red-wings in the marsh may be in peak numbers.
  3. Song sparrows are singing
  4. nuthatches are making their “peinting” call in the woods.
  5. Broad-wing hawks are calling continuously, as they fly around the woods.
  6. Many trees are already blooming including: box elder, silver maple, and cottonwood trees. The catkins flowers on the aspens are fully grown.
  7. The maple syrupping season is over in the Northland
  8. Red elderberries, are blooming about 3 weeks early.
  9. This evening I saw three spring butterflies: a mourning cloak was feeding on the sap of  a box elder. I also saw a milbert’s tortoise shell and an anglewing butterfly.
  10. Red elderberry is budding out (about 3 weeks early)
  11. Heard a few chorus frogs in the pond today.
  12. My dandelion patch is already starting to come up.
  13. Pussy willows are just opening up in the marshy areas.

March 16th, 2012

The record heat has continued all week. Yesterday, it was 80° in the Twin Cities. The number of birds calling  has increased 10x since last week. Leading the charge are the usual suspects: cardinals and chickadees.

I not sure what is happening to the weather in this part of the world, but I am already worrying about might happen here in the  summer, since we are seeing such warm weather in March.

March 10, 2012

What has happened to the silent world of winter that I have been walking in for so many weeks? Within hours, I have gone from hearing a few lonely chickadee calls to a throng of sound on the land including: “cheer-cheer”  calls of cardinals fill the air; “feebee” calls of chickadees are heard in multiple areas.  With the warm south winds, the temperature rocketed from a high of 34° on Friday (3/9/2012) to a record 66° on Saturday. The shift of the winds and the increased daylight has turned our native world upside down.

  1. Drumming and mating calls of downy woodpeckers
  2. Numerous “Cheer-up” call of cardinals
  3. Numerous “Feebee” calls of chickadees
  4. Mating calls of house finches
  5. Multiple flocks of migrating Canada geese
  6. Active chipmunks
  7. “Pump-handle” calls of blue jays
  8. Mobbing of crows and mating calls
  9. Killdeer calling and flying over head
  10. Male redwings calling from cattails
  11.  Geese setting up territories along Minnehaha Creek
  12.  A few male robins calling from the trees.

Add anything you have seen or heard to my list above.

I wonder what is the effect of this cacophony of sound on the land? I can feel the darkness lifting from my own spirit and the energy increasing in my body as the amount of sunlight has increased. I feel certain that the increased sound and light has created stirrings in the land as well.



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