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December Phenology

Did You See That?

Are you observant? If you are, you might be interested in helping us out with our phenological calendar. 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 and email EEK! when you notice any of the following...

  • Winter birds are attracted to birdfeeders. How many birds can you can identify?
  • Look for flying squirrels to visit your bird feeder at night.
  • After the next big snowfall check out the tracks that birds and mammals leave behind.
  • Has your local lake frozen over? When it does, watch for anglers heading out with tip-ups and warm clothes to ice fish. Better yet, go join them!
  • Along streams river otters search river bottoms for winter-chilled frogs and crayfish.
  • Ruffed grouse are pecking through the snow to find food.
  • Luna moths are tucked away in cocoons on the ground in leaf litter. Many other animals are snug in the snow.
  • White-tailed deer bucks shed their antlers. Look for antlers on the woodland floor.
  • Keep your eyes open for chickadees perched on branches fluffing up to keep warm in the cold winter air. Listen for their calls.
  • The constellation Orion is high in the southern sky. Look for it on clear winter nights.
  • The shortest day of the year occurs on the winter solstice on December 21st.


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