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Phenology Talkbacks: Students find newborn fawns and nestling robins

John Latimer holds a bouquet made by Prairie Creek Community School students Sophia and Andrew.
KAXE
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Charlie Mitchell
John Latimer holds a bouquet made by Prairie Creek Community School students Sophia and Andrew.

This week, enjoy 10 reports from a rapidly changing season. It's an exciting time to be outside!

Please reach out with your observations, nature tales and insights! Get in touch with me, Charlie Mitchell, (cmitchell@kaxe.org), or send us a text at 218-326-1234.

Prairie Creek Community School in Northfield, Minnesota

Prairie Creek Community School phenology report: May 21, 2024

KAXE phenology staff John Latimer and Charlie Mitchell stand with the Prairie Creek Community School Herons class on May 20, 2024. Some of the students are distracted by plants.
Contributed
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Michelle Martin
KAXE phenology staff John Latimer and Charlie Mitchell stand with the Prairie Creek Community School Herons class as they investigate plants on May 20, 2024.

“Hi, this is Michelle Martin from Prairie Creek Community School, way down south in Northfield, Minnesota. Today, we have a report from all of the Herons and two special guests. We hope you enjoy!”

Ruby: “Watch out for baby birds hatching.”
Sophie: “Watch out for bunny kits.”
Charlie: “Watch out for owls fledging.”
John: “Watch out for a classroom of little phenologists.”
Silas: "Watch out for hummingbirds.”
Kaia: “Watch out for monarchs.”
Amelia: “Watch out for cardinals.”
Jimmy: “Watch out for bud break.”
Maysoon: “Watch out for the new flowers.”
Betty: “Watch out for butterflies.”
Sienna: “Watch out for wildflowers.”
Ann: “Watch out for bunny kits.”
Jaxon: “Watch out for fawns.”
Viggo: “Look out for orioles.”
Blake: “Watch out for the birds.”
Arick: “Watch out for bats.”
Sebastian: “Watch out for snakes.”
Arlo: “Watch out for animals.”
Anita: “Watch out for magnolia flowers."
Andrew: “Watch out for toads and frogs.”
Finnly: “Watch out for robins, herons, and kestrels.”
Ravi: “Watch out for toads.”
All: “This has been Prairie Creek Community School. One more step along the phenology journey!”

Oak Grove Elementary School in Bloomington

Oak Grove Elementary School phenology report: May 21, 2024

Students from the phenology club at Oak Grove Elementary School help break up a root ball. With the help of arborists, the class planted a Kentucky coffee tree and a gingko tree on May 14, 2024.
KAXE
/
Charlie Mitchell
Students from the phenology club at Oak Grove Elementary School help break up a root ball. With the help of arborists, the class planted a Kentucky coffee tree and a gingko tree on May 14, 2024.

“Hi, this is Lindsay, Norah, Carli and Layla reporting from Oak Grove Elementary School in Bloomington, Minnesota. This week’s weather has been both sunny and cloudy, with a high of 83 degrees, and smoky from the Canadian wildfires.

“With our animal observations. Carli noticed a red fox. Lindsay saw lots of bunnies.

“With our plant observations, we planted a ginko tree and a Kentucky coffee tree. Also, we learned that ginko trees’ fruit smells like rotten butter.

“We are wondering why we know that the animals are out, but we are not seeing them.

“That's all for today. Stay tuned for the next OGE Phenology Club Nature Episode.”


Little Falls Middle School

Little Falls Middle School phenology report: May 21, 2024

A blackboard shows the phenology topics in the Little Falls Middle School class for the week preceding May 21, 2024. The illustrations show a bellwort, wild calla, American Redstart, Jack-in-the-pulpit, and Ovenbird.
Contributed
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Chad Kaddatz
A blackboard shows the phenology topics in the Little Falls Middle School class for the week preceding May 21, 2024.

“This is Bethany and Harper reporting from Mr. Kaddatz’s class in Little Falls Middle School. This is our phenology report for the week of May 19.

“It is an exciting time of year, as the same trails in the woods look completely different from week to week.

“Lilacs and violets have taken over our yards, trilliums in the woods, and yellow rocket in the fields and ditches this week.

“There are large swarms of insects, possibly midges, that are easily visible in yards and open areas, and large groups of Turkey Vultures soaring around the river each afternoon.

“The Ovenbirds are one of the loudest birds singing in the woods and are joined by choruses of toads and frogs.

“The tree leaves have really grown this week, and the red oak flowers are very long on the trees.

“Green darners are chasing insects, and we even spotted a group of Blue Jays mobbing and chasing after a crow.

“This week we spotted an Eastern Towhee, American Redstart, Gray Catbird and a Great Crested Flycatcher, and are surprised that the juncos are still here.

“It is interesting to see how many different species of insects are utilizing the dandelions for food.

“This week we discussed how to tell male and female Jack in the Pulpit apart, their interesting lives, and also how the Bellwort got its name, uvularia.

“We are starting to see more ducklings along with the goslings that were here last 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: May 21, 2024

A coyote runs in front of a field camera in Baxter, Minnesota on May 13, 2024.
Contributed
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Nate Macejkovic
A coyote runs in front of a field camera in Baxter, Minnesota on May 13, 2024.

“Hello from Mr. Macejkovic’s class at Baxter Elementary School. This is our phenology report for the week of May 20. Our names are Weylan and Isabel, and we are your phenologists for this week.

“Our weather has either been rainy or very warm. We hit temperatures just above 80 degrees on Saturday. Winds have been strong.

“Lilacs bloomed on May 11 and everything has leafed out to different degrees. Our first poison ivy was spotted in the woods; be careful.

“We now have trail cams on our school trail. So far, we've picked up rabbits, foxes, house cats, and a possible coyote. We'll send the picture to you of the possible coyote for confirmation.

“Our first monarch was reported on May 12, and we are now seeing lots of them. Mosquitoes and gnats are out and hungry and they're taking over Mr. Macejkovic’s yard.

“On our school trail, we met a Scarlet Tanager. He let us watch him for several minutes at a very close distance. Audrey saw a Great Gray Owl in her yard. We’re having fun watching orioles, cardinals, hummingbirds and Blue Jays. Several of us are getting to watch robins nests with baby chicks. Some may have fledged already. Mr. Macejkovic added a new bird to his life list, a Tennessee Warbler.

“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 Makayla, Marianne and the students from St. Andrew Catholic School in Elk River.

Long Lake Conservation Center phenology report one: May 21, 2024

“During our outdoor school trip to Long Lake Conservation Center on May 13-15, the low temperature was 37 degrees and the high temperature was 66.

“Long Lake’s two pairs of Canada Geese had goslings. One pair had five goslings, and the other two. Both families hung out together and were very protective of the little yellow fuzzballs, keeping them near at all times.

“Our group saw lots of bumble bees and flies. The bumble bees were mostly on the dandelions. We also saw a beaver, and snapping and painted turtles. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing a black bear on the opposite side of the lake.

“During our canoe adventure, we saw a nesting loon, and a second loon diving under the water fishing for perch. One person had a moth land on his hand in the bog.

“There is a lot of bird activity and singing. Sightings included a Tree Swallow nesting in a chickadee box, House Sparrows, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, orioles, bluebirds and Blue Jays.

“The worms are actively making soil in the woods, and we saw ‘big, chunky worm balls.’ Our group also saw lots of squirrels and chipmunks. They were observed eating tree nuts and even a leftover pancake. We didn’t know squirrels ate pancakes.

“We also saw spiders, and - unfortunately - a few ticks and mosquitos.

“Nature is bursting with life, and we want to remind everyone to unplug, get outside, and LIVE CONNECTED!”

This report is brought to you by Ivy, Avery and the students from Cold Spring, Richmond and Rockville Elementary Schools in the Ricori School District.

Long Lake Conservation Center phenology report two: May 21, 2024

“During our outdoor school trip to Long Lake Conservation Center on May 16-17, the low temperature was 42 degrees and the high temperature was a season high of 79.

“Other than the beautiful spring weather, the highlight of our trip was encountering the season’s first fawn. Our group was hiking in the woods and left the trail to dodge the puddles when we found a newborn fawn, curled in the grass. It was really cool. We all took a quick look and a few pictures and left it alone, knowing that mom was probably nearby, looking on nervously.

“The warm weather has been great for the flora and fauna. Marsh marigolds are blooming in the bog. In the woods, fiddlehead ferns have emerged and are around 12” tall and wood anemones and trilium are blooming.

“Our group also saw frogs, slugs, a chipmunk stuffing its mouth with nuts, a doe running across campus, a garter snake on a log, a Bald Eagle flying over the lake, and a baby toad.

“The woods are still a little muddy, but the ticks are out like crazy. It’s the beginning of baby critter season - a great time to explore - 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: May 21, 2024

“Hello from North Shore Community School on the North Shore of Lake Superior. This is the phenology report for the week of May 11, 2024. My name is Chelsea, and I am your phenologist for this week!

“On Saturday and Sunday, May 11-12, we had a stunning view of the northern lights. Northern lights are caused by magnetic storms that have been triggered by solar activity such as solar flares or by coronal mass ejections. This storm was unusually strong! It was classified as "extreme" (or a G5) storm, which is the highest level, the Space Weather Prediction Center said Friday evening. It's the first G5 storm to hit our planet since 2003.

“Mrs. Urban has a robin nest in her yard, and the robin chicks have scraggly feathers growing on them. Mrs. Urban has seen White-crowned Sparrows, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, goldfinches, Evening Grosbeaks and Red Crossbills. On Wednesday, May 15, Mrs. Urban saw Yellow Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, and Palm Warblers foraging in the crowns of the trees at Stoney Point. Jim, our school custodian, spotted an Indigo Bunting at his bird feeder. That same day, Ms. Jackson had a short visit from a Scarlet Tanager at her bird feeder. It landed, but did not eat any seeds. On Thursday, May 16, Ms. Urban heard a Golden-winged Warbler singing in the school forest. On Saturday, Teak heard a grouse at his cabin by Hibbing, Minnesota. This is the first grouse Teak has heard this year.

“May 11, the ostrich fern fiddleheads are ready to gather, plus bloodroot & Carolina spring beauty are blooming. Ostrich fiddleheads are considered a seasonal delicacy! These ferns have a deep U-shaped groove on the inside of the smooth stem and papery brown scales cover newly sprouted ferns. Some say they taste a bit like asparagus, broccoli, spinach, or green beans, but it's hard to pinpoint the exact taste of such a special little plant. They are prized for their delicate flavor and crunchy texture. If you find these in a public forest, make sure there are more around to replace missing plants if you choose to harvest this tasty treat!

“Carolina spring beauty is also an edible plant. The roots of the Carolina spring beauty are rich in starch, reportedly can be eaten raw or cooked like potatoes; and several native American groups are said to have used them for this purpose.

“Did you know that the Bloodroot is a fragile spring flower that develops and rises from the center of its curled leaf, opening in full sun, and closing at night. It is a member of the poppy family and, like most members, it lasts for a relatively short time. The red juice from the underground stem was used by Native Americans as a dye for baskets, clothing, as well as for insect repellent.

“The wild plum trees are blossoming around the French River area. Mrs. Rolfe noticed the first of the plum tree blossoms blooming on May 13. There are small, red leaves growing on the Red Maple trees in the school forest.

“On Monday, May 13, Mr. Vieau’s class found a greenish leech in the stream. Not all leeches feed on humans, we will have to do more research to find out if this is one of them.

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

Participant reports from our phenology workshop near Eden Prairie

Beth and Carol phenology report: May 21, 2024
Josiah and Cammi phenology report: May 21, 2024

Listener contributions

Mary from Cass Lake contribution: May 21, 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 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.)