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Phenology Talkbacks: Cooper’s Hawk devours robin in front of elementary students

Goldenrods bloom near Kettle River, Minnesota. They have golden sets of blooms at the top of a green stem, leafy stem. The background is a blurry, golden-tan field bordered by a green forest.
iNaturalist user Raho
A Cooper's Hawk feasts on a dead bird in Washington County on April 8, 2020.

This week, students in Northfield got a very timely, but disquietingly clear, view of the violence inherent in the food chain. Much further north, a moose slowly meandered across a road near Baudette. Nature is full of wild and unexpected discoveries; enjoy this week’s 10 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.

Prairie Creek Community School near Northfield

Prairie Creek Community School phenology report: April 23, 2024

Ann: "Greetings on this palindrome day from Prairie Creek Community School, way down south in Northfield, Minnesota. I’m Ann."
Silas: "And I’m Silas. And it’s been another busy week!"
Ann: "Probably the coolest thing that happened to our class this week was at the end of a lesson on food chains."
Silas: "We were all outside, reviewing producers, primary consumers and secondary consumers when…”
Ann: "...a Coopers Hawk swooped out of a tree…”
Silas: "...and nabbed a big robin off the lawn…”
Ann: "...and flew away to dismember and devour the robin in peace."
Silas: "All that was left was a pile of downy little feathers."
Ann: "How’s that for experiential education?!"
Silas: "We’ll all remember that lesson, that’s for sure!"
Ann: "But there is other exciting stuff happening."
Silas: "Ginkgo, red oak and white oak are just now having bud break."
Ann: "The lilac and honeysuckle have leaf out, but no flowers yet."
Silas: "The wild plums are in bloom and are covered with pollinators...”
Ann: " least when it isn’t too windy or cold!”
Silas: "We’ve seen a lot of butterflies - especially admirals, but Ann saw a swallowtail."
Ann: "Anita saw a confirmed monarch sighting on April 21."
Silas: "Blake got stung by a wasp."
Ann: "Finnly had a very close encounter with a Coopers Hawk. It flew about a foot above his head!"
Silas: "We’re still seeing juncos and we’ve also seen our first goldfinch."
Ann: "Arlo saw a heron and Viggo is still seeing a lot of cowbirds."
Silas: "Silas reports that the fish aren’t biting yet."
Ann: "But out in the woods, the spring ephemerals are out in force - Ann saw dutchman’s britches, rue anemone, and pulmonaria."
Silas: "The bloodroot is still in bloom and now the wild ginger is, too."
Ann: "This has been Prairie Creek."
Silas: "One more step along the phenology journey!"

Oak Grove Elementary near Bloomington

Oak Grove Elementary School phenology report: April 23, 2024

Student reporters Hannah, Annika,  Edgar, and Ellie stand in front of a window after recording their phenology report.
Brian Cline
Student reporters Hannah, Annika, Edgar, and Ellie stand in front of a window after recording their phenology report.

“Hi, this is Hannah, Annika, Ellie, and Edgar reporting from Oak Grove Elementary in Bloomington, MN.

“This week's weather has been cloudy, windy, with a high of 60 degrees. Today we had a little precipitation.

“This week with our animal observations, we noticed birds chirping and an owl pellet.

“With our plant observations, we notice lots of budding and the grass is getting green.

“We were wondering if the animals use the teepee we built in the woods, and what happened to the puffer mushrooms in our woods.

“That’s all for today - stay tuned for the next OGE phenology and nature episode. Fly high!"

Little Falls Middle School

Little Falls Middle School phenology report: April 23, 2024

A blackboard shows the phenology topics for the week preceding April 23, 2024. They include wild leeks, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, hepatica flowers, an Eastern Phoebe, and a bumblebee.
Chad Kaddatz
A blackboard shows the phenology topics for the week preceding April 23, 2024.

“This is Miranda and Avery reporting from Mr. Kaddatz’s class in Little Falls Middle School. This is our phenology report for the week of April 21.

“We saw our first lightning on Tuesday, April 16, and after the storm, the roads were covered with red maple flowers.

“Friday, April 19, we had multiple reports of Yellow-rumped Warblers, and the next day there were larger groups feeding on suet at bird feeders.

“We have spotted bumblebees, yellow jackets, ground beetles, ants, and our first dragonfly this week.

“There seem to be nightcrawler mounds everywhere there is soil or grass.

“The hepatica is blooming, and there are patches of trout lily leaves in the woods.

“One classmate thought he heard crickets, but we thought that only the eggs survived the winter. It is possible it was frogs he was hearing, but perhaps there was a survivor.

“Multiple classmates observed robins gathering nesting materials.

“We had a report of a Wilson’s Snipe, a Brown Thrasher, and a Palm Warbler.

“Mr. Kaddatz found a red admiral butterfly, and is very puzzled by it. They migrated south last fall, so we were not expecting to see any around here in the spring.

“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 phenology report: April 23, 2024

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

“We had rain this last Tuesday with thunder: our first since Good Friday. But other than that, it's been nice and sunny.

“Plants like dandelions are sprouting as well as my mom's tulips. Also, a northern pin oak broke through its bud. Our small-tooth aspen male catkins are dropping. Our female ones are starting to turn green. Beaked and American hazel have bud break too.

“Audrey saw a baby deer with its mother. One of our classmates also had a big tick on ‘em!

“One of our classmates thought they saw a baby loon, but we think it's too early. We saw a male and female crossbills well. This concludes the phenology report. Have a great week and be observant.”

Dan Hanson

Dan Hanson phenology report: April 23, 2024

Dan Hanson, a listener, texted in to say: "Loons return to Horseshoe Lake, in southwest Grand Rapids, last Sunday, April 22. So good to hear their calls again."

Roots and Wings Forest School near New York Mills

Roots and Wings Forest School phenology report: April 23, 2024

A student cannonballs into the creek at Roots & Wings Forest School on April 10, 2024.
Special for KAXE
Lorie Shaull
A student cannonballs into the creek at Roots & Wings Forest School on April 10, 2024.

“This is Hazel, Rose, Kip, and Finn reporting from Roots and Wings Forest School in New York Mills.

“On April 10, Charlie and Lorie came over and we went down to the creek. We saw a dead coyote. At the end of the day, we were jumping in the creek and going swimming. It was really fun.

“We raced rafts too, and like Hazel was saying, then they jumped in the creek. Well, should I say: cannonball!

“Spring peepers are also waking up.

“We found a deer hoof by the creek and Leona found it and we had to guess what it was. And we guessed it was a horse hoof or deer hoof. It was one deer hoof.

“April 17: I found a nest up in a tree when we were climbing, and then it was quite big. We don't know what it was. It was definitely bigger in my head.

“When we were out frog hunting earlier today, we were walking around with nets out in the deep water. The water I (would say was about two feet, maybe three). And I found some tadpoles. And... that's it.

“As I was fishing for frogs, I saw that one of my friends found an egg in their net, and we're pretty sure it was a duck egg. And I also found a deer skeleton and I have a little song to share: ‘Hmmm hmmm hm hm hm hm hm hmm hm hmmm hm hm hmmm.’

“We didn't see any frogs, but we still had fun.

“Thanks for listening! Stay wild!"

Long Lake Conservation Center near Palisade

This report is brought to you by Wes, Margeaux and the students from Highland Catholic.

Long Lake Conservation Center phenology report: April 23, 2024

“During our outdoor school trip to Long Lake Conservation Center on April 17-19, the low temperature was 26 degrees and the high temperature was 48.

“We had some rain and it was snowing this morning. Will it be the last snow of the season?

“In between the rain and snow, we observed lots of interesting nature, including a few first-of-the-year sightings. We found the first baby painted turtle of the year. We learned that hatchlings from eggs that are laid late in the season may stay underground in the nest over the winter, emerging in the spring. The Long Lake staff thinks that’s what happened.

“For the first time this year, a groundhog was observed out of his burrow and running around.

“The woodpeckers are out in the trees being VERY loud. We identified Hairy, Downy, Red-bellied, Pileated and even a Red-headed Woodpecker. Naturalist Katie told us that she saw the year’s first bluebird on campus. The Ruffed Grouse were drumming like crazy and the chirping from the frogs in the marsh was loud and beautiful.

“Our group found two snails on wood, observed loons, ducks and beavers in the lake.

“During lake bottom organisms class, we found dragonfly nymphs and diving beetles and looked at them under a microscope.

“In the bog, tamaracks have small buds on them after losing their needles last fall.

“There is a lot of poop in nature. Our group found raccoon “dumpings” near the compass field, deer scat, ‘the earthworms are pooping,’ and we watched the squirrels relieve themselves IN the seeds they were eating. Gross!

“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 13, 2024. My name is Addie, and I am your phenologist for this week!

North Shore Community School phenology report: April 23, 2024

“On Sunday, April 14, it reached 74 degrees! A few days later a strong low pressure moved in the Duluth area on Tuesday and Wednesday, and resulted in gale-force east to northeast wind gusts. A gale warning was in effect for much of western Lake Superior on Wednesday morning.

“On Thursday, April 11, Mrs. Urban saw a Killdeer, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and heard a Fox Sparrow. On Monday, April 15, Mrs. Urban saw more migratory ducks, including Buffleheads, Pied-billed Grebes, and Common, Red-breasted and Hooded Mergansers.

“By Friday, April 12, all the maple taps were pulled at school. When the weather starts to get warmer, and the buds start swelling on the maple trees, that’s a sign that the syruping season is over. In fact, Mrs. Urban noticed that the maple trees started to flower on Tuesday April 16. Also on Tuesday, Mrs. Rademacher’s class found a willow tree in the swale in full bloom, with fuzzy white and yellow flowers. Later they saw a willow in the woods, and the buds hadn’t fully opened yet.

“Mrs. Rolfe found a wood tick on her dog on Saturday, April 13. She also noticed on Saturday that there were so many black flies crawling on the grass but not very many were flying. Mrs. Jackson’s class found water striders on the stream on Wednesday, April 17.

“On Sunday, April 14, Mrs. Rolfe heard the frogs for the first time this year and on Friday, April 19, she saw her first garter snake this year.

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

West Rapids Elementary School in Grand Rapids

West Rapids Elementary phenology report: April 23, 2024

“Hello, this is our phenology report from Mr. Cody's fourth-grade classroom at West Elementary. Ahoy from Grand Rapids, MN.

“We took a walk in a cold west wind. We saw some good progress. The sugar maple, basswood, butternut and paper birch did not change much.

“The red maple, though, had flowered and even wilted in the last week. The leatherwood has also flowered. Right next to it, the beaked hazel had male and female flowers present.

"Also, many of us have been seeing many wasps. As always, get outside.”

Lake of the Woods School in Baudette

Lake of the Woods School phenology report: April 23, 2024

“This is Elijah with the phenology report from Baudette for April 15-19.

“On Friday, our class spooked a garter snake in the school forest. Mrs. Pierson reported slapping a mosquito on Friday.

“On Sunday, Maya witnessed a moose crossing highway 71 near Red Lake.

“Chorus frogs were heard calling on Friday with wood frogs calling shortly after on Saturday. A leopard frog was seen near Bostic Creek on Saturday.

“Finally, the first Northern Flickers in the area were seen on Monday.”

Birding the Sax-Zim Bog with Judd Brink

Birding the Bog phenology report: April 23, 2024

“Here is my last report from the Sax-Zim Bog as my guiding season is just about over. Thanks so much for sharing my reports with KAXE!

“Birding the Bog:

“Ruffed Grouse (observed a male drumming), Black-billed Magpie at a nest, Two nesting pairs of Bald Eagles (incubating), Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, Merlin, Great Gray Owl, Barred Owl, Downy and Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Ruby- and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Purple Finch, Evening Grosbeak, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Turkey Vulture, Blue-winged Teal, Mallard, Wood Duck, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Trumpeter Swan, Common Loon, Canada Goose, Fox Sparrow, Pied-billed Grebe, Northern Flicker, Winter Wren, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, American Kestrel, Wilson's Snipe, Song Sparrow, Common Grackle and Red-winged Blackbird. Happy Birding!”

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).

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Charlie Mitchell (she/they) joined KAXE in February of 2022. Charlie creates the Season Watch Newsletter, produces the Phenology Talkbacks show, coordinates the Phenology in the Classroom program, and writes nature-related stories for KAXE's website. Essentailly, Charlie is John Latimer's faithful sidekick and makes sure all of KAXE's nature/phenology programs find a second life online and in podcast form.<br/><br/><br/>With a background in ecology and evolutionary biology, Charlie enjoys learning a little bit about everything, whether it's plants, mushrooms, or the star-nosed mole. (Fun fact: Moles store fat in their tails, so they don't outgrow their tunnels every time conditions are good.)