Yellow crocus blooming in early spring

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...

Get ready for big changes this month as winter gives way to spring (we hope).

  • Tree sap begins flowing as the days get warmer. Learn more about the sugar maple and where maple syrup comes from.
  • Male red-winged blackbirds return to Wisconsin from their warm southern winter retreats. You'll see them returning in large mixed flocks, sweeping across the sky and landing in chattering groups in wetlands.
  • The woodcock, also called timberdoodle, breeds in March and April throughout most of the eastern United States and Canada. Learn more about this small,long-billed bird and the male's spring dance.
  • Tundra swans breed and nest in the tundra and in sheltered marshes on the Alaskan and Canadian coast near the Arctic Circle. They pass through Wisconsin on their way north from March through late May.
  • Watch for bluebirds.
  • Listen near wet areas for the high-pitched "peep" of the spring peeper frog, the hoarse quacking of the wood frog, or a long "crreek" sound, like a fingernail pulled across the teeth of a comb, made by the Western chorus frog.
  • When the leaf of the bloodroot, an early spring wildflower, first appears it is wrapped around the flower bud.
  • During this time of year, many fish are moving about in Wisconsin's waters. They are exciting to watch as they dance, wiggle, and sail through the shallow waters of our rivers and lakes to find their breeding places.
  • Spring is a time when many animals are born and you might discover young animals in your yard or in the wild. They are often cute, helpless, and seem friendly but remember, a parent is usually nearby. Wild animals are best left in the wild.