Did You See That?
Are you observant?
Phe-nol-o-gy is the study of changes in plants and animals as they respond to weather, climate, and the seasons.
Each spring we anxiously await the first returning robin in the hope of warmer weather.
That is a phenological event.
It happens every year but the return date depends a lot on the weather.
Migration and flowering are two more examples of phenological events.
Look around for the following seasonal/phenological changes...
- The first day of fall (autumnal equinox) arrives in Wisconsin on September 22.
- The beginning of the month will bring waves of long-distance migrants that have either bred in Wisconsin or are passing through on their way from the boreal breeding grounds to their central and south American wintering areas. These include warblers, tanagers, hummingbirds, vireos, thrushes and flycatchers. The Blackburnian warbler travels from the pinery of northern Wisconsin to southern Peru every year!
- Across Wisconsin, deciduous tree leaves change color.
- Tamarack tree needles turn yellow and will eventually fall.
- Katydids, grasshoppers, crickets and cicadas stop "whining" in the evening as the temperature goes down.
- Mosquitos begin to disappear, hurrah!
- Beavers reinsulate their lodges with mud and branches and stash birch and aspen branches for a winter's meal.
- Thirteen-lined ground squirrels, flying squirrels, red and gray squirrels fatten up for winter by eating nuts from trees.
- Mid-late September brings large numbers of migrating raptors. Look along lakeshores and you may see large kettles or flocks of broad-winged hawks, turkey vultures and sharp-shinned hawks. Broad-winged hawks and turkey vultures migrate in large numbers through Mexico to tropical wintering grounds in South America.
- Later this month chinook salmon start spawning. It's a good time for fish watching.
- Tiger salamanders migrate to wintering sites like logs, the foundation of buildings and gopher mounds.
- The full moon is September 8.