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

Phenology Talkbacks: Orioles and hummingbirds arrive to Minnesota

A male Baltimore Oriole sits on a metal feeder pole in Minnesota on July 8, 2020. It is a songbird with a pointed beak and vibrant orange-and-black plumage.
Courtney Celley/USFWS
A male Baltimore Oriole sits on a metal feeder pole in Minnesota on July 8, 2020.

This week's been a busy one! Enjoy the nine student reports and three notes from listeners.

We'd love to hear what you're seeing out there! Get in touch with me (, John Latimer (, or text "phenology" to 218-326-1234.

Fort River Elementary School in Amherst, Massachusetts

“Hi, we are Aya, Casey and Jiahao.”

Aya: "We have noticed that the day length has been getting longer by 2.5 minutes.”

Casey: "Also, the temperatures have been rising steadily every day. They have been in the upper 60s and mid 70s.”

Aya: "The crabapple tree behind our school has many little green leaves and it is filled with tiny pink and white flower buds. Some flower buds are even open!”

Fort River Elementary School phenology report: May 7, 2024

“The maple tree now has many helicopter seeds of different sizes.”

Jiahao: "Behind our school, we have a garden with many flowers and vegetables. In one of our garden beds, we saw many wheat sprouts. They were already about 3.5 cm tall.”

Casey: "We saw a bok choy, which was also about 20 cm tall.

"Some of us found a bunch of chives growing behind our school. They were about 20 cm tall. We even tasted them; they tasted just like onions!”

“We even saw poison ivy! But we did not touch it. There were also many purple flowers all around us. We recognized violets, bugle weed, and ground ivy-which had such a strong scent!”

Jiahao: "Everything is getting greener here in Massachusetts!

“As for animals, we saw some insects, birds, and bees. We also saw a butterfly! We saw many robins hopping on the soccer field behind our school. There was a squirrel gathering some food right in front of us!”

Everyone: "That’s a wrap from the Western Mass phenology class!

Prairie Creek Community School in Northfield, Minnesota

Prairie Creek Community School phenology report: May 7, 2024

Ravi: "Hi everyone, this is Ravi...”

Kaia: "...and this is Kaia...”

Ravi: "...and we’re from Prairie Creek Community School, way down south in Northfield, Minnesota.”

Kaia: "Viggo saw our first grosbeaks and orioles this weekend, and then we saw and heard an oriole at recess.”

Ravi: "We’re wondering if it’s the same oriole that we saw last year when we had a pair in our woods all spring.”

Kaia: "We saw several deer, sadly most of them were roadkill.”

Ravi: "There were geese with goslings that a lot of us saw at a city park on the river.”

Kaia: "We’ve seen a lot of Bald Eagles, including what appeared to be several young Bald Eagles.”

Ravi: "There are a lot of grackles, turkeys and pheasants.”

Kaia: "Ann and Finnly saw a baby robin on a nest.”

Ravi: "There was a crow making a strange, raven-like croaking sound.”

Kaia: "And no one saw any juncos or hummingbirds this week.”

Ravi: "Silas has found morels and pheasant backs and Michelle saw oyster mushrooms.”

Kaia: "Sienna reported a lot of ticks - so be careful out there!”

Ravi: "There are a lot of flowers right now - tulips, dandelions, bellwort, violets, and bleeding hearts are all blooming.”

Kaia: "The red and white oaks at school are FINALLY leafing out.”

Ravi: "The ginkgo is leafing out, too, and the locust trees have bud break.”

Kaia: "BUT the mystery tree we have been trying to identify does not have bud break yet.”

Ravi: "Maybe next week… stay tuned!”

Kaia: "For now, this has been Prairie Creek...”

Ravi: " more step along the phenology journey.”

Little Falls Middle School

Little Falls Middle School phenology report: May 7, 2024

A blackboard shows the phenology topics for Chad Kaddatz's class at Little Falls Middle School for the week preceding May 7, 2024. The illustrations include a fiddlehead, marsh marigold, Chipping Sparrow, Common Loon, and wild ginger.
Chad Kaddatz
A blackboard shows the phenology topics for Chad Kaddatz's class at Little Falls Middle School for the week preceding May 7, 2024.

“This is Paige and Ellie reporting from Mr. Kaddatz’s class in Little Falls Middle School. This is our phenology report for the week of May 5.

“The local rivers and streams are running very strong after a week of rain.

“In the woods we have hepatica, bloodroot, and trout lilies blooming, and the trillium leaves are just starting to appear.

“Fiddlehead ferns are also popping up in the woods and around our houses.

“Some of the new birds to appear this week are the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, White-crowned Sparrows, Marsh Wren, Eastern Meadowlarks, Gray Catbirds, a Gray-cheeked Thrush, a Northern Mockingbird, Clay-colored Sparrows, and Baltimore Orioles.

“There is a juniper tree covered in cedar apple rust fungus. The strange orange blobs were only there for a day or two.

“There have been large swarms of gnats, especially around athletic fields.

“There have been lots of new warblers this week. Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat, Nashville Warbler and Pine Warblers have all been spotted, and the Yellow-rumped Warblers are still here and devouring our suet.

“One interesting sight this week was a group of ducks mixed in and following a flock of geese that were flying in V formation.

“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: May 7, 2024

“Hello from Mr. Macejkovic’s class at Baxter Elementary School. Our names are Noah McKenna, and Grant, and we are the phenologists for this week.

“It has been very windy this week, but there has been some sun peeking through the clouds.

“Most maples leafed out on May 5, and the small-toothed aspens leafed out on May 5, also. And some of our hepatica have been blooming. Some small-toothed aspen stands are leafed out too.

“We also saw two bunnies. We saw two types of butterflies this week: a Compton tortoiseshell butterfly and a mourning cloak butterfly. One of our classmates saw a June bug. One of our other classmates saw a ant bridge in their backyard.

“We saw a Bufflehead, an Osprey and two Purple Martins - and lots of Butter-butts. We also saw an Ovenbird and a Great Horned Owl.

“We have a question for you, Mr. Latimer. How big of birds do shrikes kill? Because we saw a dead Red-winged Blackbird by a fallen down tree. 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 Chase, Brooke and the students from Central Elementary in Norwood Young America.

Long Lake Conservation Center phenology report (Central Elementary): May 7, 2024

“During our outdoor school trip to Long Lake Conservation Center on April 29-May 1, the low temperature was a rainy 36 degrees and the high temperature was 58.

“One of the highlights of the trip was the triumphant return of Dill Prickles the porcupine. Dill returned to campus after a month-long absence and put on an impressive display of eating. Everyone got a good long look as it sat in an aspen tree having a feast on the newly budded leaves. The prickly little friend’s hands were a blur, bringing leaf after leaf to its mouth, gorging itself. We checked the ground beneath him and confirmed that it was only the leaves he was eating and not the bark.

“Another really cool sight was watching a painted turtle hatch and emerge from the ground.

“Our group also observed a skunk in the compost. Long Lake staff told us that skunks are a rare sight on campus.

“We also saw a Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, a doe running through the woods, lots of squirrels, ten ducks, two loons, geese, chipmunks, and two beavers. One of the beavers was eating what we thought looked like a nut on the shore of the lake.

“A little rain couldn’t stop us from having a great week in nature, and we want to remind everyone to unplug, get outside, and LIVE CONNECTED!”

Our next report comes from Crooked Lake Elementary’s trip to Long Lake Conservation Center near Palisade.  

“During our outdoor school trip to Long Lake Conservation Center on May 1-3, the low temperature was 41 degrees and the high temperature was 60.

“Our group discovered a variety of creepy crawlies that come out after rain, including lots of slugs living on and under logs. They are very cute.

Long Lake Conservation Center phenology report (Crooked Lake): May 7, 2024

“Most trees are budding and when the sun came out this morning, the birds were singing loudly. We also found a baby painted turtle. Before breakfast, a group sat at the shore of the lake and listened to the bird concert. We used the Merlin app and confirmed five different types of birds - the American Robin, Chipping Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Dark-eyed Juncos and Swamp Sparrows.

“Our group likes lichen. We found red, yellow, green, white, and blue, but NOT purple lichen.

“With all the rain, the bog is VERY wet these days. We watched a single loon fly over the lake. The pair of resident Long Lake loons didn’t like that, and called loudly. We assume they were saying, ‘This lake is taken! Stay away!’

“The frogs are starting to be on the move. We spotted two leopard frogs near the marsh. We also found a spider, interesting fungus, and Pileated and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. 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 27, 2024. My name is Eloise, and I am your phenologist for this week!

“The week started off with rain, but on May 1, when students arrived, it was almost clear with clear visibility. However, by 8:30 a.m., the fog had rolled in, and you could barely see the field from the classroom windows!

North Shore Community School phenology report: May 7, 2024

“Mrs. Young’s class saw a flock of American White Pelicans flying over the school on Tuesday, April 30. Mrs. Rolfe heard a Great Horned Owl hooting on Tuesday, April 30 between 6:30 and 7:00 AM. She was surprised as she had not heard a Great Horned Owl before on her morning walks. Did you know that it is believed that the Great Horned Owl stays with the same mate for at least 5 years, perhaps for life? Members of a pair often remain on the same territory year-round. If something happens to one of the pair, the survivor will usually find another mate.

“Also, on April 30, Penny saw a purple finch, which are actually red in color, at her bird feeder for the first time this spring. On April 30, Mrs. Rolfe noticed that the marsh-marigolds, growing in the ditch along the Old North Shore Road, are close to being full size plants and could bloom any day. Lupins are growing alongside most of the rural roads in Duluth Township and are about 2 inches tall now. Although many people find lupins beautiful, they are invasive. Invasives crowd out native plants and force native species to compete for resources. Minnesota does have a native lupine, but it is located in Southeastern Minnesota. The native lupine is a benefit to the federally endangered Karner Blue Butterfly. However, invasive lupins do not provide the same benefit. The Minnesota DNR is actively managing invasive lupin at state parks and trails along the North Shore.

“On Wednesday, May 1, several sixth-grade students agreed that 95% of the school fields are covered in green grass now. There are also a few daffodils outside the kindergarten classrooms that blossomed on May 2.

“On Sunday, April 27 near Wrenshall, Minnesota, the migrating common green darner dragonfly was spotted for the first time this year. The common green darner has been recorded flying 76 miles in a single day, clocking speeds upward of 36 miles per hour during migration!

“On Wednesday, May 1, Ms. Jackson spotted her first bumble bee on her daffodils!

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

West Rapids Elementary in Grand Rapids

West Rapids Elementary phenology report: May 7, 2024

“Hello, this is our phenology report from Mister Cody's fourth-grade classroom at West Elementary school.

“It was an overcast day, but warm out. My, oh my, the progress made over two weeks! The red and sugar maple both had leaf bud break. The butternut and basswood also started to break.

“The leatherwood’s flowers were wilting, as was the speckled alder done flowering. The red elderberry had leaves and they were growing in size.

“Down by the creek, we saw 3 Golden-crowned Kinglets, [there] were minnows swimming too.

“There was also fresh woodpecker chips low to the ground. As Mr. Latimer always says, ‘Onward and awkward!”

Lake of the Woods School in Baudette

Lake of the Woods School phenology report: May 7, 2024

“This is Wyatt with the phenology report from Baudette for April 26-May 3.

“Sawyer has noticed multiple beaver castor mounds along local creek banks marking territories.

“The first White-throated Sparrow was heard on Saturday.

“Spring peepers were heard calling on Sunday.

“Finally, the first flock of molt migration, non-breeding Canada geese was spotted flying over the school Friday.”

Notes from listeners

Mary from Hackensack - May 7, 2024
Pat from Zerkel
Betsy from Meadowland - May 7, 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).

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?).