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Phenology Talkbacks, June 7 2022

American Crow
American crow

Reminder: Our Season Watch newsletter launched last week! Subscribe here.

Here we are in another week of phenology talkbacks! Our phenology/nature newsletter, Season Watch, launched last week. It's a great resource if you need inspiration or tips on what to look for out in the world. It's an exciting time of year, with spring ephemerals wrapping up their flowering, insects emerging, and baby animals being born. Why not follow up your explorations with a quick report? We'd love to hear from you!

Prairie Creek Community School in Northfield, June 7th

We hear from the entire class in our final report from Prairie Creek Community School in Northfield! Their teacher, Michelle Martin, asked them to share their summer phenology recommendations with us. Here they are!

  • Violet tells us to keep an eye out for changes in birds, animals, and bugs. 
  • Molly asks us to watch for dragonflies. 
  • Ruby tells us to look for robins. 
  • Allia recommends we look out for hummingbirds. 
  • Leo says hi. 
  • Arlo suggests watching for turkey vultures. 
  • Aspyn says, "watch out for the really nice flowers around here." 
  • Silvia tells us to look for feathers. 
  • Kalianna suggests we watch out for butterflies. 
  • Meadow recommends looking for giant wasps. 
  • Sorcha tells us to keep an eye out for dandelions turning white and fluffy so we can make a wish. 
  • Malcolm wants us to watch out for clovers 
  • Zephryn recommends keeping an eye out for cicadas. 
  • Ben tells us to look for orioles. 
  • Finn suggests watching for blue jays. 
  • Emmy says hi. 
  • Elliot wants us to look for herons. 
  • Ben recommends looking for turtles (I agree, Ben!). 

They end with an impressively synchronized, "This has been Prairie Creek Community School. One more step along the phenology journey: see you next year!"

John wants to give them a round of applause (so do I!). They've given us some remarkable observations over the last year and given John and Heidi a nice preview of the spring changes that come to Northfield before Grand Rapids. They are our southernmost school: they see the last of the hummingbirds when they leave in the fall and are the first to welcome spring when it arrives! John says, "Thanks so much for all of the hard work you students did. It was wonderful, wonderful to have you along for the year, and we look forward to next year with you!"

Sarah in West St. Paul, June 7th

I sent in a report from my home in West St. Paul. My wife, Hayley, and I have spent the last few weeks attempting to befriend a group of crows! The crows have a habit of perching in the trees outside our apartment building about three times per day. Now that I'm working on my balcony (the joys of working from home!), I've been chucking out a few almonds when they stop by. This week, they started to take them, break them apart on a tree root, and eat them! Over time, I'm hoping that we'll build a fun little friendship with this group of crows. I'll take a moment to note that it's never a good idea to make wildlife dependent on humans for food; we feed them only a couple of almonds a day to ensure they remain reliant on their other food sources. The almonds do help them learn to associate us with good things! Hopefully, we can build on that relationship over time! Otherwise, the garlic mustard and dame's rocket were in full bloom this week (both are invasive plants). I tried to pull them out when I saw them, but there's only so much you can do. The black locust (an invasive tree) was also blooming. In addition to being fragrant, the flowers are edible. I enjoyed snacking on them on my walks, knowing I was helping remove the seeds of an invasive plant while also having a tasty snack! I concluded by asking John what effect high winds have on phenology (we've had some windy weeks!).

John says thanks and that high winds can significantly affect phenology. For instance, the aspen seeds were flying steadily for a while this spring. Then, high winds blew all the fruiting parts off the trees. John says it was quite an interruption to the blooming process of the trees this year!

That does it for this week- we're looking forward to what next week brings us! In the meantime, I invite you to join the Season Watch newsletter, get outside, and send us your reports, questions, or anecdotes!

Remember that you can add your voice to this list! We would love to hear from you. Get in touch with me (smitchell@kaxe.org) or John (jlatimer@kaxe.org), or text 'phenology' to 218-326-1234.

For more phenology content, subscribe to our Season Watch newsletter!

As a mail carrier in rural Grand Rapids, Minn., for 35 years, John Latimer put his own stamp on a career that delivered more than letters. Indeed, while driving the hundred-mile round-trip daily route, he passed the time by observing and recording seasonal changes in nature, learning everything he could about the area’s weather, plants and animals, and becoming the go-to guy who could answer customers’ questions about what they were seeing in the environment.
Heidi Holtan has worked at KAXE/KBXE for over 20 years. She currently helms the Morning Show as News and Public Affairs Director. Heidi is a regional correspondent for WDSE/WRPT's Duluth Public Television’s Almanac North. In 2018 Heidi received the “Building Bridges in Media” award from the Islamic Resource Group for her work on KAXE/KBXE hosting conversations about anti-Muslim movements in rural Minnesota.
Sarah Mitchell (she/they) joined the KAXE team in February of 2022. Sarah creates the Season Watch Newsletter, writes segment summaries for the website, and coordinates our Engaging Minnesotans with Phenology project. With a background in wildlife biology, Sarah enjoys learning a little bit about everything, whether it's plants, mushrooms, aquatic invertebrates, or the short-tailed shrew (did you know they can echolocate?).