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Milwaukee Urban Ecology Blog

Written by Willie Karidis
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
In September the Urban Ecology Center will be taking our second trip to visit the greatland, Alaska.  Last year my wife Christine and I were fortunate to guide a trip, which we called The Great Alaska Adventure, with 44 Urban Ecology Center members and friends. Having lived in Alaska, on the border of Denali National Park, for 25 years, my memories run deep and my experiences were varied. After growing up in Wisconsin I feel like I was shaped into who I am today, literally in the backcountry of Denali.
Written by Mike Larson
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
This year the Urban Ecology Center is excited to host the 25th Anniversary Earth Poets and Musicians Earthstravaganza Event on April 26th from 7-10 PM at our Riverside Park Branch. Come spend an evening listening to eco-friendly poetry and music put on by over two dozen songwriters and poets this Arbor Day. The following is a special sneak preview of poems and lyrics featuring the Earth Poets themselves.
Written by Jennifer Callaghan
Thursday, 11 April 2013
The tiny Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) is one of the first migrants to arrive to Wisconsin in the spring. It gets its name from the beautiful orangish-yellow feathers on the top of its head which resemble a crown. The male's crown is a deeper orange, while the female's is more of a bright yellow. The crowns of both species are lined in black and underlined with a white eyebrow. The head pattern and pale underparts distinguish this bird from the plain face and yellower underparts of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Written by Caitlin Reinartz
Wednesday, 10 April 2013
This month we turn the spotlight onto a native tree that has a large and dedicated fan base, the quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides).  Its fan base consists of hunters, recreationists, bunches of wildlife, and me!  The trees have smooth pale bark scarred with black. The leaves are almost circular to triangular with little teeth all the way around the edge.  They are glossy and green above, a dull whitish color on the underside, and turn a beautiful golden yellow in the fall.  The petioles or leaf stalks are flattened instead of round, which causes the leaves to flap and flutter beautifully in the wind, hence the name “quaking” aspen.
Written by Dan Graves
Tuesday, 09 April 2013
At this time of year when it seems like spring is never going to come, take heart in knowing that beneath the layers of straw, leaves and compost, little plants are beginning to pop out of the ground.
Written by Kristin Nelson
Friday, 05 April 2013
When the Young-Harris family welcomed me into their house on a cold Saturday morning, Donald and Donovin politely greeted me at the door. Golden sunlight streamed into their warm, cozy home, and they offered me a seat on their couch. Within moments, their mother Katrina Young-Harris walked into the living room where I sat with her boys, and she shared a smile so big and warm that I instantly felt “at home” with this family.
Written by Phenology Team
Tuesday, 02 April 2013
For some, the word Phenology is a relatively elusive word that doesn't immediately bring anything to mind. Considering that it's derived from Greek word phaino, meaning to show or appear, you might guess that spring is a great time to begin practicing this fun activity. April is an important month for Phenology because it marks the appearance of so many friends of field and forest that seem long lost over the cold winter months.
Written by Sarah Rohe
Thursday, 28 March 2013
It was a muddy day in the woods. The snow that had piled up all winter was melting, making it a perfect day to study the tracks that animals had left behind in the mud. One particularly excited 2nd grader, Kayana, was anxious to find any track she could. As she ran off the trail in search of more signs that animals had made, I asked her to come back to the group. Clearly disappointed that I had stopped her investigation, she yelled back “But I’m in the woods- I’m s’posed to explore!”
Written by Omar Bonilla-Ortiz
Tuesday, 26 March 2013
For all the cutting-edge design here at the Menomonee Valley, one of the building’s most prominent and unique features is actually based on a centuries old technology...and you’ve probably walked right past it!  The Solar Chimney (that two-story black box on the front of our building), also known as a ‘Solar Stack,’ or ‘Thermal Chimney’, uses the principle of convection to help keep the center well ventilated; and some versions of this technology date as far back as the Copper Age (circa 5500 B.C.E.).   Convection?  Sounds like a lot of hot air!    I’ll be honest, the first few times I heard about the stack my eyes glazed over a little, but the theory it’s based on is actually…
Written by Joel Springsteen
Friday, 22 March 2013
What native Wisconsin plant is the first to bloom in the spring, generates its own heat capable of thawing frozen soil and melting snow, and produces flowers before leaves; flowers that emit a smell of rotting flesh? Skunk cabbage!  Not a true cabbage, skunk cabbage is a member of a mostly tropical family of plants, the Arum family or Araceae. Other well known members of the Arum family include calla lilies, philodendrons, taros (elephant ears), as well as other native plants like Green Dragon and Jack-in-the-pulpit. Skunk cabbage gets its name from the pungent skunk-like odor released when any part of the plant is broken or damaged and from its large leaves which grow in a rosette somewhat like a cabbage.

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