Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Phenology Talkbacks: Spring’s first bloodroots and dandelions begin flowering

Twelve bloodroots bloom in St. Peter, Minnesota on April 15, 2024.
Brian O'Brien via iNaturalist
Twelve bloodroots bloom in St. Peter, Minnesota on April 15, 2024.

Spring has sprung and it’s a busy time for our student phenologists! Enjoy this weeks’ nine reports.

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.

Fort River School in Amherst, Massachusetts

Fort River School phenology report: April 16, 2024

“Greetings from Western Massachusetts. We are experiencing much higher temperatures.

“On April 9, we hit 73 degrees. We were also lucky enough to have clear skies and warm weather for the solar eclipse.

“Even though it is getting much warmer, we did have unexpected snow on April 5. Our days have also been getting longer. On April 9, it was 13 hours 7 minutes, 29 seconds of day length.

“Animals and plants are beginning to come out. We are beginning to hear more birds chirping, and some of the early spring flowers and plants are beginning to bloom.

“In the swampy area by the playground, there's a lot of skunk cabbage that's getting greener and bigger.

“Around the town, forsythia shrubs are in bloom with lots of yellow flowers. The red maples have begun to drop their flowers, and they are littering the ground. The tulip buds are just starting to peek out, and there are some white bell-shaped flowers we don't know the name of.

“Our class found a diver moth larvae swimming in the swamp behind the garden. We also saw what we think is a field mouse trying to get into the school.

“And that’s a wrap from the Western Mass. phenology class!”

Prairie Creek Community School in Northfield, Minnesota

Prairie Creek Community School phenology report: April 16, 2024

Betty: "Hi this is Betty."

Maysoon: "And this is Maysoon. And we’re from Prairie Creek Community School, way down south in Northfield, Minnesota."

Betty: "There is A LOT to report today!"

Maysoon: "Let’s get to it!"

Betty: "First of all, our magnolia tree is in bloom! Its bloom date can vary a lot from year to year, but this year, it was April 10."

Maysoon: "That’s not the only thing that blooming. We have also seen rue anemone, daffodils, creeping Charlie, and bloodroot. And SQUILL - don’t get me started on the squill. The bleeding heart is sprouting, but isn’t in bloom yet."

Betty: "The birds have been busy, too! A robin is making a nest in our solar panel and a Red-bellied Woodpecker is drumming on the metal on Michelle’s chimney."

Maysoon: "We’re still seeing juncos, and the vultures are also around in large groups. The male turkeys have been showing their tail feathers."

Betty: "We’ve seen Mallards, Mourning Doves, grackles, a flicker, a cowbird, a Killdeer and pheasants."

Maysoon: "We saw three gophers - including a pocket gopher that ran through a soccer game at recess. The bunnies are very active. I saw a group of four foxes and we also saw our first bats!"

Betty: "We might have seen the bats because the insects are certainly out. We have seen a lot of gnats and mosquitos, and on April 14, we saw our first dragonflies. Anita saw a centipede and we also saw bumble bees. Not only that, but we saw our first butterflies this weekend - a comma and an admiral. It’s possible that Arick saw a monarch, but we are waiting for a second sighting before it’s official."

Maysoon: "Let’s see - plants, birds, mammals, insects. That leaves…”

Betty: "...amphibians and reptiles!"

Maysoon: "Sebastian saw a tree frog. We’ve been hearing frogs during recess, too. Finally, we saw a few garter snakes out and about. We’ll see how they feel about the cold snap at the end of the week."

Betty: "Whew! This has been Prairie Creek."

Maysoon: "One more step along the phenology journey."

Oak Grove Elementary in Bloomington

Oak Grove Elementary phenology report: April 16, 2024

Sumiko, Nathan, and Marley record the phenology report for April 16, 2024.
Brian Cline
Sumiko, Nathan, and Marley record the phenology report for April 16, 2024.

“Hi this is Nathan, Marley, and Sumiko reporting from Oak Grove Elementary in Bloomington, Minnesota.

“This week 's report is all about the eclipse. An eclipse is where the moon lines up to cover the sun.

“It was too cloudy so we couldn't see it. We did look at the sun with special glasses.

“That's all for today! Stay tuned for the next OGE phenology nature episode.”

Little Falls Middle School

Little Falls Middle School phenology report: April 16, 2024

A blackboard shows illustrations for the Little Falls Middle School phenology topics: A spring peeper, an Eastern Bluebird, newborn rabbits, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a Wood Duck.
Chad Kaddatz
A blackboard shows illustrations for the Little Falls Middle School phenology topics: A spring peeper, an Eastern Bluebird, newborn rabbits, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a Wood Duck.

“This is Nathanial and Mina reporting from Mr. Kaddatz’s class in Little Falls Middle School. This is our phenology report for the week of April 14.

“Male turkeys have been spotted displaying and strutting around in open areas in the mornings before school.

“Some of the new birds we saw this week were an Eastern Phoebe, a Hermit Thrush, a Belted Kingfisher, a Northern Flicker, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Rusty Blackbird, coots, and cowbirds.

“A classmate found a woolly bear caterpillar, which is one of the few that are better known for their larval stage than as adults. It will soon become an Isabella moth, and there will be a new round of woolly bears next fall.

“After the rain we received last week, some students found earthworms on the sidewalks around the school.

“The spring peepers are loud and relentless in their calling for a mate at local ponds.

“Water striders were found on some calm water at Lindbergh State Park.

“There were also large groups of Mayfly nymphs swimming in the water. They looked a lot like small tadpoles at first.

“A few people noticed a huge flock of hundreds of birds while at a baseball game in Pierz. Our best guess is that they were starlings.

“We were hoping for some hepatica, but could only find one plant with flowers that were not quite ready to bloom. We are expecting that the woodland ephemerals will be exploding this week.

“That is our report for this week. Until next week, keep exploring, keep discovering, and keep connecting with the great outdoors.”

Baxter Elementary

Baxter Elementary School phenology report: April 16, 2024

“Hello from Macejkovic's class at Baxter Elementary School. We are your phenologists for this week.

“This weekend it was really sunny. We found the first dandelion in Brainerd. We also observed our tulips blooming on April 10.

“Lastly, we found tiger lilies budding on April 14.

“We heard and saw wood frogs and spring peepers.

“One of our classmates found a bear rummaging through garbage.

“Our class saw a woolly bear caterpillar. We found some large dragonflies, mosquitoes were on April 12. We found lots of bees and wasps and even ants.

“We saw the Red-winged Blackbird male wave on April 10. Our class saw lots of chickadees.

“To wrap it up, we saw a Blue Jay and a Bald Eagle doing its mating dance.

“This concludes the phonology report! Have a great week and be observant.”

Long Lake Conservation Center near Palisade

This report is brought to you by Maddie and the students from Montessori Renaissance Academy, and Sophia, Jackson and the students from St. Stephen’s Catholic School.

Long Lake Conservation Center phenology report 1: April 16, 2024

“During our outdoor school trip to Long Lake Conservation Center on April 8-10, the low temperature was 33 degrees and the high temperature was a season-high 68 degrees.

“It was a week of firsts. Our group spotted the year’s first earthworm on the path after the rain, and, unfortunately, we encountered ticks.

“Two first-of-the-year highlights were frogs singing in the marsh and the return of loons to Long Lake. Our group also heard a Ruffed Grouse drumming and saw Hooded Mergansers and Mallards on the lake.

“It was fun watching the squirrels steal all the bird seed from the feeders. There were LOTS of ladybugs.

“Our group had an eventful night hike. We saw a beaver swimming in the lake.

“Every time we made a different animal call, a Canada Goose would call back. We howled like a wolf, and the goose would honk. We hooted like a Barred Owl and the goose honked. We determined that the ‘Goose knows too much.’

“There was still a little ice in the bog. We observed a pitcher plant that had been partially eaten. We also saw fairy goblets, and lots of deer scat near the bog.

“It was a great week in nature, and we want to remind everyone to unplug, get outside, and LIVE CONNECTED!”

This report is brought to you from Curran and the students from St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Grand Rapids, Harper and the students from St. Henry’s Area School in Perham, and Elizabeth and the students from St. Wendelin’s Catholic School in Luxemburg.

Long Lake Conservation Center phenology report 2: April 16, 2024

“During our outdoor school trip to Long Lake Conservation Center on April 10-12, the low temperature was 32 degrees and the high temperature was 66 degrees.

“Nature was coming alive, particularly the lake. During our canoe adventure, we saw a loon catching fish, Hooded Mergansers and both painted and snapping turtles. Long Lake staff says those are the first turtles spotted this year. A pair of Trumpeter Swans landed on Long Lake this morning and hung around for a while. They are beautiful birds.

“Also in and around the lake, our group saw a leech and a caddisfly in his home. A beaver was swimming to shore, possibly chewing on some reeds. We saw a mud minnow and a mouse swimming. We didn’t expect to see that! Multiple frogs were seen, including leopard frogs. We also saw a vole and crayfish.

“On land and in the air, we saw lots of Purple Finches and had an invasion of Dark-Eyed Juncos. We also saw American Robins and a Pileated Woodpecker.

“Our group observed a moth that looked like an Edwards Glassy-Wing Moth, and a weird, fat slug sleeping on a stick. Someone reported that a spider crawled on them, and a boy caught a garter snake.

“At night, we saw Orion and the Big Dipper. We also enjoyed seeing the different textures of the moon and watching Sirius changing color.

“The bog continues to be extra boggy, and a student shared this bog wisdom moments after sinking past her knees: ‘Never trust a puddle.’

“It was a great week in nature, and we want to remind everyone to unplug, get outside, and LIVE CONNECTED!”

North Shore Community School near Duluth

“Hello from North Shore Community School on the North Shore of Lake Superior. This is the phenology report for the week of April 6, 2024. My name is Atley, and I am your phenologist for this week!

“April is known as the Sugar Moon according to the Ojibwe. On Monday, April 8, the day of the total solar eclipse, we experienced rain and a 100% cloudy sky. We had to have indoor recess. We watched the live NASA stream as it was viewed across the country from Mexico to Maine. Adella was able to see the total eclipse while she was on vacation in Texas and emailed us pictures. The next total solar eclipse to cross North America will occur on August 23, 2044. The path of totality from this eclipse will only be seen in North and South Dakota and Montana and northern Canada. You’ll have another opportunity in 2045 and 2099. The total solar eclipse on September 14, 2099, will cross a wide swath of the United States including Minneapolis, Minnesota. Most of the students currently in sixth grade at NSCS will be 87 or 88 years old when the total solar eclipse happens in Minnesota.

North Shore Community School phenology report: April 16, 2024

“Ruby noticed that a robin came and built a nest in her porch on Tuesday, April 9. On Wednesday, April 4, Lukas saw an owl on a telephone pole during sunset. It was a Barred Owl. It was brown and its face looked like a cup. He thinks it lives around his house, which is a forested area by a creek that is a branch of the Knife River.

“On Sunday, April 7, Ms. Urban saw some flocks of ducks on the bay side of Park Point, including Ring-necked Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, Greater and Lesser Scaups, and Redheads. Soon these ducks will move on to their breeding grounds to the north as smaller inland lakes thaw.

“On April 7, Tamara saw about 15 robins in her yard searching for insects and worms.

“Two students from third grade spotted a bobcat on the big field near the tree line at North Shore Community School on Friday, April 5.

“On Saturday, April 6th, Ms. Urban noticed that the aspen catkins had burst. Catkins are a type of flower structure that forms on many types of trees and shrubs, where flowers grow in long clumps and hang down below the branches. If you look to the top of an aspen tree, the catkins look like fluffy white cotton balls from the ground.

“After the rain that came on April 7-8, Mrs. Rolfe saw earthworms all over her driveway for the first time this spring.

“On Wednesday, April 10, Ms. Jackson’s class noticed that Schmidt Creek at school was rapidly flowing. Areas next to the stream were flooded from recently melted snow. There were only a few spots on the nature trail where sparse piles of snow remained. Our school playground & nature trail grounds were very soft and muddy with lots of puddles. It was a high 57 degrees and no jackets were required!

“This concludes the phenology report. Have a great week and be observant!”

Lake of the Woods School in Baudette

Lake of the Woods School phenology report: April 16, 2024

“This is Athena with the phenology report from Baudette for April 5-11.

“It’s been an incredible week with many phenological happenings in our area. On Saturday, Aurora reported seeing a mourning cloak butterfly. A large flock of newly arrived American Robins was also seen Saturday morning.

“All on Sunday, the first woodcock, Red-winged Blackbird, Wood Ducks, Purple Finches, and ants were all observed. Melody reports seeing her Grandma’s rhubarb poking through the ground on Sunday as well.

“On Monday, the first American Kestrel and earthworms were seen, as well as the first grouse drum heard.

“Finally, on Tuesday, students harvested the first dandelions of the year from the south side of the school on the playground.”

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

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

Stay Connected
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?).