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Phenology Talkbacks: A Snowy Owl with little snow

A Snowy Owl sits on a trailer in Duluth on Feb. 6, 2016. It is silhouetted against a vibrant red building.
iNaturalist user dialbforbirding
A Snowy Owl sits on a trailer in Duluth on Feb. 6, 2016.

Enjoy our four reports this week, featuring owls, hares and not enough snow.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with your observations, nature tales and insights! Get in touch with me (, John Latimer (, or text "phenology" to 218-326-1234.

Lake of the Woods School

Lake of the Woods School phenology report - Dec. 19, 2023

“This is Parker with the phenology report from Baudette for Dec. 8-15.

“On Monday, Wyatt reported seeing an all-white snowshoe hare next to his house.

“Layla saw a Snowy Owl perched on a branch near her house on Wednesday.

“Finally, Lynk witnessed a Bald Eagle carrying its prey and landing on his house roof. It flew away before the prey could be identified.”

Cohasset Elementary School

Cohasset Elementary phenology report - Dec. 19, 2023

“Hello, we are Aspen and Adley from Mr. Lindner’s fifth-grade science classroom at Cohasset Elementary School. We have made lots of observations over the past week.

“The winter solstice will be this Thursday, which means we will be increasing daylight in the coming months.

“On our weekly walk around the school, we have seen lots of animal tracks like deer, fox, mouse, and rabbit. When we look at the tracks, we try to figure out where they are going or what we are doing. It is a fun puzzle to solve.

“The snow depths have been very low in fields and almost gone in many areas. This has not been a very snowy winter.

“We will continue to look for winter birds, animal tracks, and other plants and animals. We are looking forward to another week of observations.

“Thank you for listening - Like Mr. Latimer always says: Onward and awkward!”

Eagle View Elementary School

Eagle View Elementary phenology report - Dec. 19, 2023

“We are here to share the phenology report for the week of Dec. 11-17, 2023, from Eagle View Elementary School in Pequot Lakes.

Eagle View Elementary students use their senses to explore the outdoors on Dec. 12, 2023. Two young students walk through a dusting of snow next to a pile of branches. They are holding exploration cards and are bundled up against the cold.
Eagle View Elementary Nature Center Facebook page.
Eagle View Elementary students use their senses to explore the outdoors on Dec. 12, 2023.

“It was another week of warm temperatures, with highs from 28-50 degrees! On Thursday, it snowed, but then Friday, it rained most of the day and was very foggy so most of the snow was gone by the end of the school day.

“Friday night, the rain turned to snow. The snow was very wet and heavy, causing some trees to bend under the weight. We saw the snow melting close to the trees on the ground.

“We found out that the dark color of the tree bark attracts the sun, which causes that snow to melt first. That was pretty interesting! Now the snow is very icy and crusty to walk on.

“There have been a lot of birds visiting our birdfeeders. This week we have seen:

  • Chickadees 
  • Downy Woodpecker 
  • Pileated Woodpecker 
  • Nuthatches 
  • Blue Jays 
  • Crows 

“Mrs. Harman saw a flock of Cedar Waxwings in our crabapple tree on Friday!

“This is Kendall and Mackenzie reporting from Eagle View Elementary. Happy Holidays!”

Oak Grove Elementary School

Oak Grove Elementary phenology report - Dec. 19, 2023

“Hi, this is Hannah, Marley, Callan and Edgar, reporting from Oak Grove Elementary in Bloomington, Minnesota.

“This week’s weather has been snowy, cold and windy with a high of 29 degrees today. We’ve had 1 cm of snow this week.

“With our animal observations, we noticed lots of tracks this week, lots of them on logs. We noticed deer, mouse, coyote, and rabbit tracks. The birds are using the birdfeeder.

“With our plant observations, we noticed the buckthorn leaves are dying. The tamarack is losing needles and more are turning brown.

“We are wondering why there are so many tracks on logs.

“That’s all for today. Stay tuned for the next OGE Phenology Club nature episode! Eagles out!”

Renae Paul

Otters and coyote - Dec. 19, 2023

A coyote stares at three river otters on Pokegama Lake near Grand Rapids.
Renae Paul via KAXE-KBXE Season Watch Facebook group
A coyote stares at three river otters on Pokegama Lake near Grand Rapids.

Renae Paul shared a cool photo of otters and a coyote seeming to face off on Pokegama Lake near Grand Rapids.

A similar encounter was recorded at Yellowstone National Park! A quick google search of “coyote and otters” generates quite a few stories of otters chasing off coyotes that have encroached on their personal space.

However, it seems that coyotes may have their way occasionally: they are listed as one of the major predators of otters, with young otters especially vulnerable to predation.

That does it for this week! For more phenology, subscribe to our Season Watch Newsletter or visit the Season Watch Facebook page.

Fundingfor this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

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Charlie Mitchell (she/they) joined the KAXE team in February of 2022. Charlie 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, she 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?).