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Phenology Talkbacks: Students discover forests filled with warblers

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.
Chad Kaddatz
A blackboard shows the topics for the Little Falls Middle School science class for the week preceding May 28, 2024.

As the school year winds down, seasonal changes in nature are just ramping up. Enjoy this week's six student reports and six contributions from listeners!

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.

Oak Grove Elementary School in Bloomington

Oak Grove Elementary phenology report: May 28, 2024

Principal Cline: “Hi, this is Principal Cline with the Oak Grove Elementary Phenology Club turning in our final report for the 23-24 school year. With me today is...”

Students: “Lindsey, Annika, Layla, Carly, Nora, Norah L., Gordon, Sumiko, Marley, Callan, Shayla, Ellie, Nathan, and Hannah.”

Principal Cline: “This was our first ever phenology club. We had a wonderful time. We did so many great activities. We learned so much about nature and our environment and our outdoor school forest. Some of the things that we really enjoyed doing this year were...”

Students: "We cleaned our forest.
“We planted Kentucky coffee and ginkgo trees and also got some trees to plant at home.
“We saw lots of fun changes in our forest.
“We found puffer mushrooms, tracks and identified species.
“We built wind turbines...”
“Tapped a maple tree...
“And we got some drone video of the forest and our school solar panels.
“And I won the log competition.

Principal Cline: “Well, thank you for listening to all the great Oak Grove Elementary Phenology Club reports. Signing off from Oak Grove Elementary in Bloomington, Minnesota, this is Principal Cline and have a great summer!”

Students: “Adios, see ya, [goodbye in another language], goodbye, signing off for this year, bye, bye, bye, see you next year, peace, bye, thanks for listening, adios, [goodbye in another language], bye-bye!”

 Shown is a photograph of a letter written for the Oak Grove Elementary School Phenology Club leaders by one of their students, Norah L. It reads, “Dear Principle Cline, Miss Laura, Mr. Murphy
Thank you sooo much for phenology this year. I have loved it so much. It has been something I look forward to in my day. I have learned so much this year about how plants live and grow. I’m going to miss it sooooo much. I will never ever forget this year of fourth grade.
She also provided illustrations of puffer mushrooms (“so cool,” the caption says) a drawing of the two trees the class planted, and a sketch of the school rooftop as seen by drone. She concluded with, “I love nature soooo much, as you can see.”
Dave Murphy
This is a letter written for the Oak Grove Elementary School Phenology Club leaders by one of their students, Norah L.

Little Falls Middle School

Little Falls Middle School phenology report: May 28, 2024
Little Falls Middle School Instagram phenology page

John Latimer stands with Mr. Kaddatz's class of science students at Little Falls Middle School in the spring of 2024.
Chad Kaddatz
John Latimer stands with Mr. Kaddatz's class of science students at Little Falls Middle School in the spring of 2024.

“This is Mr. Kaddatz’s first hour class in Little Falls Middle School. This is our phenology report for the week of May 26.

“Today is our last day of school, so this will be our last official report for the year, but hopefully we will be able to continue sending some reports over the summer, as well as updating our Phenology Instagram page.

“Lily pads are fully up on ponds and lakes, and there are multiple families of geese and ducks on every body of water in the area.

“There are several different types of tadpoles in ponds and wetlands, and we found a tiger salamander in some damp soil of a garden.

“There are wood anemone, wild strawberries, and wild geraniums blooming in the woods, and prairie smoke and wild columbine are blooming in the meadows.

“The most exciting insect find this week was a rosy maple moth. They are a unique pink and yellow colored moth.

“There are mosquitos everywhere, obviously the recent wet weather has really helped their population. At least the bats and dragonflies will be well fed.

“This week we spotted a Blackpoll Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting and Chimney Swift.

“The Tree Swallows are very active and loud around blue bird houses.

“We are seeing several turtles on land, both snapping and painted turtles. We are assuming they are females looking for a place to lay their eggs. We encourage everyone to be on the lookout for turtles this time of year, and assist them in crossing any dangerous roads.

“Thank you for allowing us to be a part of the phenology broadcast, and to share our discoveries throughout the year.

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

Long Lake Conservation Center near Palisade

This report is brought to you by Avery, Emmit and the students from Saints Peter and Paul School in Richmond.

Long Lake Conservation Center phenology report for Saints Peter and Paul School visit: May 28, 2024

“During our outdoor school trip to Long Lake Conservation Center May 20-21, the low temperature was 50 degrees and the high temperature was 71.

“The highlight of our trip was the return of monarch butterflies. As the wildflowers start to bloom, the pollinators are returning, including a variety of bumblebees.

“Emmit saw a blue damselfly on our walk to the bog. We need the dragonfly army to arrive in full, because the mosquitoes hatched this week. They are pretty thick right now and we were swatting them like crazy.

“Our group loved the trek to the bog, where we picked a few cranberries. Bentley didn’t like the taste. On the way to the bog, we heard and saw frogs and toads jumping around, and saw a lot of different types of plants blooming, including bogbean, March calla, wood anemone and large-flowered bellwort. Jude found a garter snake and the birds were singing.

“We found a turtle shell that was probably decomposing, and saw loons and Trumpeter Swans on the lake.

“It’s a great time to be alive and we want to remind everyone to unplug, get outside, and LIVE CONNECTED!”

This report is brought to you by Asher, Mr. Beau and the students from Hamilton Elementary School in Coon Rapids.

Long Lake Conservation Center Hamilton Elementary phenology report: May 28, 2024

Mr. Beau: “Hi, this is Mr. Beau...”

Asher: “...and this is Asher from Hamilton Elementary School.”

Mr. Beau: “At the Long Lake Conservation Center, we saw a lot of animals, such as...”

Asher: “...loons...”

Mr. Beau: “...beavers, insects such as dragonfly larvae, and leeches (which was fun). We went to a bog and drank bog water, which was great. It tasted nice. The first thing I did was canoeing and archery, and it was an amazing experience.

Asher: “The first things that I did were drinking bog water and visiting the bog.”

Mr. Beau: “My favorite memory from Long Lake is the archery.”

Asher: “My favorite memory from Long Lake was canoeing.”

Together: “Unplug, get outside and LIVE CONNECTED.”

Note from Dave McMillan: “It was first for many students AND teachers. Mr. Beau had never canoed or shot a bow and arrow before. Pretty cool.“

This report is brought to you by Ian, Gloria, Oz and the students from Lincoln Elementary School in Anoka.

Long Lake Conservation Center Lincoln Elementary School phenology report: May 28, 2024

“During our outdoor school trip to Long Lake Conservation Center May 22-24, the low temperature was 39 degrees and the high temperature was 74.

“One of the highlights of our trip was seeing a porcupine walking across campus. We think it was probably the famous Dill Prickles. Long Lake staff said it’s been a month or so since Dill was on campus.

“Our group also saw a Red-bellied Snake IN THE BOG. We were told that this is a bit unusual. There were also lots of signs of new life, including a handful of robin’s eggshells on the ground.

“We found bear paw prints in the mud and learned that a black bear had gotten through the electric fence and into the beehives. He made a BIG mess.

“Our group also saw an orange butterfly, lots of garter snakes, a handful of deer, Common Loons, red grasshopper mites, snails, slugs, worms, chipmunks and Hairy and Red-headed Woodpeckers. We even found the bones of a dead chipmunk. Someone in our group thought they saw a red fox. There was a gray squirrel eating the grape jelly and oranges that were left out for the orioles, and a red squirrel sat in the window feeder, pigging out on millet for about half an hour. It didn’t care one bit that we were inches away, staring at him.

“We are happy to report that we spotted many dragonflies who were very busy eating the mosquitoes. It’s a great time to be alive, 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 28, 2024

“Hello from North Shore Community School on the North Shore of Lake Superior. This is the phenology report for the week of May 18, 2024. My name is Jude, and I am your phenologist for this week!

“On Thursday, May 23, there was a full moon. It is known as the Leafing Out Moon according to the Ojibwe. On Wednesday, May 22, over a period of 30 hours, it was recorded that Two Harbors had received 3.02 inches of rain and in Duluth, 1.58 inches of rain. A flood advisory was in place.

“On Friday, May 17, Mrs. Pierson-Evans heard an ovenbird behind our school. Over the weekend of May 18, Mrs. Urban saw Cape May Warblers and her first ever Blue-headed Vireo. On Sunday night, May 19, she heard a whip-poor-will singing behind her house. Also on this day, Penny and Eloise saw a flock of about 13 Cedar Waxwings in Eloise’s maple tree, and Penny saw an Indigo Bunting in her front yard. Gavin, from Ms. Felton’s fourth-grade class, was excited to let us know that he had seen his first set of loons this past weekend.

“This week in the school forest, Mrs. Urban heard Red-eyed Vireos, Black-throated Green Warblers, Black-and-white Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. She saw an Eastern Phoebe hunting insects on Monday, May 20. On Wednesday, May 22, Mrs. Lampela’s class saw an Osprey flying over the school.

“The aspen trees have fully leafed out, and the small maple leaves are growing larger. The fruit trees in the orchard are flowering this week. Mr. Keegan found a flowering Jack-in-the-pulpit by the stream on Thursday, May 23. Violets and strawberries are flowering in the school forest. The red elderberries are flowering in Mrs. Urban’s yard.

“On Sunday, May 18, Ms. Jackson was outside and had to go inside late afternoon because the mosquitoes were fiercely biting. Trevon found dragonfly larvae and a predacious diving beetle in the stream on Thursday, May 23.

“On Tuesday, May 21, Mrs. Young’s class found a small wood frog in the school forest. Mrs. Lounsberry’s class found one on Thursday, May 23. Maybe it was the same one!

“On Monday, May 20 at the creek, Magdalene found some sort of aquatic eggs attached to the bottom of a piece of garbage and Serana found a small mussel. On Thursday, May 23, Sawyer measured the depth of Schmidt Creek and it was 49 centimeters deep. Students’ mud boots were not tall enough to withstand this depth! However, classes enjoyed Stream Study class in the deep water.

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

Listener Contributions

Tony from Dixon Lake - Waterfowl chicks' leap of faith

Tony from Dixon Lake contribution: May 28, 2024

Anonymous from Otter Lake - Canada swallowtail butterfly and blooming columbine

Anonymous from Otter Lake contribution: May 28, 2024

Chan Dolan - Bumble bees

Chan Dolan contribution: May 28, 2024

Listen to Chan's interview here.

Richard - Spring foliage

RIchard's question about foliage - May 28, 2024

Kathy - Waterskiing

Kathy on water skiing - May 28, 2024

Dave - Bluebirds

Dave on bluebird nesting - May 28, 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 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.)