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Phenology Talkbacks: Students ask how to make windows safe for birds

A male Prairie Chicken on the booming grounds at Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Becker County.
Lorie Shaull
A male Prairie Chicken on the booming grounds at Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Becker County.

This week, the Little Falls students are wondering about the best way to prevent bird collisions with windows. I did a little research, and the cheapest option is to make little dots every 1.5 square inches with a bar of soap. Otherwise, I’ve had luck with the FeatherFriendly window markers- they've nearly eliminated bird collisions on our windows, even though the feeder is quite close to the house. Acopian Birdsavers also work, if you want a Zen experience. Or, you can pay more for a UV-reflective material or liquid which is visible to birds but not humans.

Please enjoy our nine reports today!

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.

Little Falls Middle School

Little Falls Middle School phenology report: April 30, 2024

A blackboard shows illustrations of the Little Falls phenology topics for the week preceding April 30, 2024. Topics include the trout lily, fairy shrimp, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and bloodroot.
Chad Kaddatz
A blackboard shows illustrations of the Little Falls phenology topics for the week preceding April 30, 2024.

“This is Tyler and Noah reporting from Mr. Kaddatz’s class in Little Falls Middle School. This is our phenology report for the week of April 28.

“Everything is starting to look green around here, from our lawns to the tips of tree branches.

“It has been too wet and cold for our hepatica, bloodroot, and trout lilies to bloom fully.

“The loons and White Pelicans have returned to our lakes.

“There are garter snakes emerging from their hibernation, and several classmates have seen bats flying around their houses.

“The redhorse suckers are running in the rivers.

“Mr. Kaddatz followed and was able to identify a mustard white Butterfly.”

“This week, we saw a Brown Thrasher, Barn Swallows, a Northern Rough-winged Swallow, a Swamp Sparrow, and White-throated Sparrows.

“We have had lots of birds hitting windows this week, we are curious what the best method for preventing this is.

“Mr. Wenzel shared a new creature with us, a rat-tailed maggot. It is the bizarre looking larvae of a drone fly.

“A classmate has a Turkey Vulture nest visible from his house.

“Mr. Kaddatz observed a chickadee pulling tiny strips off of branches from a juniper, probably for a nest.”

Baxter Elementary

Baxter Elementary phenology report: April 30, 2024

“Hello from Mr. Macejkovic’s class at Baxter Elementary. This is Sammy, Zander, and Halo with the phenology report for this week.

“It has been really rainy and windy. It also hasn't been very warm because of the wind. We also got a hard frost on Wednesday.

  • Lilac bud break on April 28.  
  • First red maple break on April 24.  
  • First  beaked Hazel leaf on April 25. 

“Some people have seen deer. Isabel saw three-week old baby squirrels who fell out of a tree. She helped them. This all happened on the April 23 after school.

“Some of our classmates saw a lot of worms on April 28 from the rain. One of our classmates also saw some bees on April 25, and also on April 25, someone saw Compton's tortoiseshell butterflies.

“Our classmate Audrey saw a kingfisher on April 22. Sammy saw loons on their nest on April 26. Somebody saw a Hairy Woodpecker on April 28. Two male and two female yellow finches on April 28 too!

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

Long Lake Conservation Center near Palisade.

This report is brought to you by Piper, Hayden and the students from Modern Montessori Charter School in Champlin.

Long Lake Conservation Center (Montessori) phenology report - April 30, 2024

“During our outdoor school trip to Long Lake Conservation Center on April 22-24, the low temperature was 27 degrees and the high temperature was 64. We had a few sprinkles and tiny hail.

“Our group observed that pink, purple and white hepatica are blooming and that the grass is turning greener. There are still lots of leaves, pine needles and acorns on the ground.

“We learned that bog water is tasty and Labrador tea leaves, when boiled, make a mildly sweet and delicious tea.

“The squirrels are very active at the bird feeders.

“We observed beavers swimming in the lake, and two of them swam close to us and flapped their tails in the water as a warning. Two loons were spotted on the lake, diving for fish. The frogs are noisy and active. We heard lots of croaking from the marsh, saw a leopard grog by the lake, and ‘Spring Peepers be peeping.’

“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 by Owen, Evan, Gia and the students from Sand Creek Elementary in Coon Rapids.

Long Lake Conservation Center (Sand Creek) phenology report - April 30, 2024

“During our outdoor school trip to Long Lake Conservation Center April 24-26, the low temperature was 29 degrees and the high temperature was a sunny 67.

“The beavers were swimming around the edge of the lake and hiking up a hill: we think they were looking for a snack. They seemed to be very used to humans watching them.

“We noticed many deer tracks and saw deer running in the forest. One student found what they guessed was a clump of fuzzy fox fur and several students saw a chipmunk with a small dead snake. We also saw a garter snake and noticed the orangey/red coloring on it. When the garter snake was picked up it made a smelly smell just like the Long Lake naturalist said it would.

“We noticed male and female Purple Finches and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Before we went canoeing, we were sitting on the shore of Long Lake and we got to watch a curious loon swim very close to shore.

“We saw many different sized painted turtles both in the lake and on land. We also saw the year’s first dragonflies. The marsh marigolds have flower buds and the hepatica are in bloom.

“In the bog it was calm, there was lots of water and a very big dip. If you stepped on that spot you might sink to your shoulders!

”We had a great week in nature, and we want to remind everyone to unplug, get outside, and LIVE CONNECTED!”

North Shore Community School near Duluth

North Shore Community School phenology report - April 30, 2024

“Hello from North Shore Community School on the North Shore of Lake Superior. This is the phenology report for the week of April 20, 2024. My name is Jori, and I am your phenologist for this week!

“As of Monday, April 22, Duluth’s snow season to date is over 100 inches behind last year’s! This year was 38.7 inches, last year was 139.8 inches, and the norm is 87.6 inches.  Why are we bringing up snow again in April?  Well, a snowy mix was predicted with rain for Tuesday, April 23. On this day at school, we had a quick, short burst of heavy rain during recess, followed by hail around 11:45 a.m. It only lasted for about 20 minutes. A full moon was viewed that evening. It is known as a Pink Moon. However, it is not pink in color. It is more of a golden color. Its name comes from a pink wildflower native to eastern North America called the Phlox subulata. There was a very heavy frost on Wednesday, April 24. 

“Ms. Jackson spotted her first Purple Finch at her bird feeder on Friday, April 19. Mrs. Urban heard a Purple Finch singing when she got to school on Monday morning, April 22. On that day she also heard a White-throated Sparrow singing in her yard for the first time. On Monday, April 22, Mrs. Felton’s class watched a grouse drum on a log in the school forest.

“On Thursday, April 25, Mrs. Urban saw a pair of Eastern Bluebirds using one of the nesting boxes on the school property. Tree Swallows were also checking out the nest boxes. On Thursday, April 25, Mr. Dover’s class saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker poking its head into a newly created cavity in an aspen tree, which it will use as a nest.

“Mrs. Rademacher’s class found wild strawberry leaves growing in the forest on Tuesday, April 23, and Mrs. Young’s class found round-lobed hepatica flowers, which can be white or purple in color. Mrs. Johnson’s preschoolers found wintergreen leaves. On Tuesday, April 23, students started noticing red maple flowers had fallen on the forest floor, which happens when they are done flowering. On Thursday, April 25, Mrs. Lounsberry’s class found ramps, or leeks, starting to emerge.”

“Mrs. Rademacher’s class saw a small cricket in the forest on Tuesday, April 23.”

“Ms. Jackson heard spring peepers for the first time at her house in Knife River on the evening of Monday, April 22. On the same day, Mrs. Urban heard frogs in the pond at school.

“Earth Day was celebrated on Monday, April 22. Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin senator who was very concerned about the damaging effects pollution was having on the earth. Earth Day is a great reminder to preserve our planet’s natural environment.

“At our school this month, we have been cleaning up trash around our school grounds, weighing our weekly classroom garbage, making posters, and sharing positive quotes on our morning announcements. Our sixth grade has been working with SeaChange Expeditions, learning about the negative effects of single use plastic and creating ‘plastic awareness art.’ Make every day Earth Day!

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

North Shore Community School phenology report - April 30, 2024

West Rapids Elementary in Grand Rapids

“Howdy, this is Alexandra and Willow and this is our phenology report for Mr. Cody's fourth-grade classroom in Grand Rapids, MN. This is for Mr. Latimer.

“This week, Mr. Latimer and Miss Egger provided us a chance to collect aquatic macroinvertebrates! We sampled the back pond with dip nets.

“We found a surprising amount. There was a blood midge, daphnia, water spider, water boatman, water beetle, larvae, and a type of snail.

“My favorite was being able to wear the boots and going in the water and carrying a net and catching micro invertebrates.

“And my favorite was finding a tiny snail.

“Always go ‘onward and awkward,’ just like Mr. Latimer says.”

Mary from Cass Lake

Mary from Cass Lake phenology - April 30, 2024

Heidi Holtan

Heidi Holtan phenology - April 30, 2024

Pam Perry

Pam Perry phenology - April 30, 2024

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 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?).