Phenology ... what is it & what's happening?

Hi, all!

Hope you are all enjoying the crazy Northeasern US weather, getting out to enjoy nature, and making some observations for the WXXI Nature Challenge!
I'm Betsy Ukeritis, an environmental educator for NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation. I just wanted to take a minute to talk about phenology.

What is Phenology

It is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life. In simpler terms: it's why bird species come back almost to the same day year after year in the same location or why, on my old college campus, witch hazel would flower within a 5-day window for a 75-year record. It is also how we can start to see how the climate is changing: snow is melting sooner (okay, maybe not here in Lake Effect areas) and plants are greening up sooner, even insects & birds are showing up sooner. That witch hazel on my old college campus? The records in the last 20 years since I graduated show it is flowering nearly 10 days earlier than it used to: the college is in Maine.

What Phenology Can We See Right Now?

Center for Northern Woodlands Education (aka Northern Woodlands on Facebook) has a whole hashtag on facebook about the Northern Forest (yes, NY is included) on phenology. Today they posted about how painted turtles are the earliest turtles to come out of hibernation (you can occasionally see them swimming under the ice! And just like we at the DEC remind the public about taking down bird feeders in March & April to prevent bear conflicts, Northern Woodlands reminded people this weekend that racoons are up and trying to wreck bird feeders at night.

Center for Northern Woodlands Education's website
Northern Woodlands' Facebook

Good luck with your observations!
You can reach me on iNaturalist at "EvilTwinNYC" or at my DEC email

Posted by eviltwinnyc eviltwinnyc, April 08, 2019 16:04


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