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Milwaukee Urban Ecology Blog

Written by Urban Ecology Center
Monday, 08 March 2021
The vernal equinox is upon us! And with it, comes longer days, shorter nights, and (eventually) warmer temperatures. March 20th officially marks 2021’s first day of spring when the hours of daylight and night are roughly equal. This makes sense, given the Latin roots to this event’s name; “equi” stemming from “equal,” and “nox” stemming from “night”: “equality of night and day.” From here, the days will continue to grow longer until the summer solstice on June 21st - the longest day of the year. For this reason, the spring equinox often represents new life and new beginnings as the light overtakes the dark. After months of cold and snow, when many animals hibernate and plants senesce, life returns.
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Thursday, 04 March 2021
Early spring brings us more than just sorely missed warmer temperatures with more daylight. It’s a “goldilocks zone” where the snow has melted but the trees' leaves don’t yet shade the ground. For a short period of time, when conditions are just right, spring ephemerals begin to bloom. Ephemeral - describing something as transitory or lasting for a short period of time - in this case, refers to the curious spring wildflowers we only see briefly each year around this time.
Written by Rob Dragani
Tuesday, 02 March 2021
Spring is right around the corner, and it’s one of the most fun times of the year for phenology. As the snow melts and plants start sprouting, you can almost feel spring approaching in the air. Some animals, such as the Eastern chipmunk and the Blue Spotted Salamander, are waking up from their winter slumbers while others are returning from their annual southern migrations. Each year, we at the Urban Ecology Center have a staff competition to see who can observe the first Red-winged Blackbird at one of our parks. The males migrate back to the area in late winter, followed by the females a few weeks later. You could even beat our staff this year! Listen for their characteristic…
Written by Mike Larson
Thursday, 25 February 2021
As a white man in a managerial role, I recognize that I have a limited scope of experience when it comes to discussing issues of racial justice and how it relates to our work at the Urban Ecology Center. I also recognize that too often white voices have remained silent on these issues when we should have spoken up, and so on the occasion of the official release of our organizations Equity, Dignity, & Justice Anti-Racism Action Statement I’m humbly offering these reflections to add another voice to the chorus of Black and Brown voices that we all should be listening to with greater sincerity.
Written by Rob Dragani
Thursday, 18 February 2021
The mink is a squirrel-sized member of the mustelid family that includes the otter, wolverine, badger, fisher, and other weasels. Also, a member of this family is their domesticated European cousin, the ferret. Like the otter, the mink is an excellent swimmer, rarely seen far from water. Also like otters, minks are particularly playful and extremely curious. Like many weasels, they like to enter and travel through burrows and cavities but rarely dig their own. Minks have extremely fast metabolisms and are seldom seen sitting still, constantly looking for their next meal. They are such effective hunters that they will frequently “cache” their kills and save them for later. Caches have been found with as many as 50 fish stored.…
Written by Madeline Karian
Thursday, 18 February 2021
As member of an organization that is striving to actively be anti-racist, I feel it’s more important than ever to both learn and celebrate Black history. To cut to the chase, I am a white woman and I don’t believe it’s right for me to have the loudest presence at this moment in time.  While I and my colleagues don’t claim to be experts, one thing we know we can do is share events, stories, and activities that honor Black History this month. Preferably, these are things led or created by people of color, in order to amplify their voices and not take up more space with my voice or other white voices. So with that, I offer you a…
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Wednesday, 10 February 2021
Hi everyone! I’m Kirsten, one of the Environmental Educators at the UEC. Usually, I’d be here to tell you about the many ways you can connect with nature in your own neighborhood, but this time I’d like to share with you some information about another equally important part of my work at Urban Ecology Center: the Equity, Dignity, and Justice (EDJ) committee. So far the EDJ committee has largely focused internally, on learning about oppression alongside our fellow staff at the UEC. Now, with the public release of our anti-racism commitments, we felt it’s time to share the history of this work at the UEC and honor the work that many folks have done that led to this point. Que…
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Wednesday, 10 February 2021
In the heart of the city, especially in the midst of one of Milwaukee’s classic, bitterly cold winters, it's easy to miss the endless bird songs we took for granted throughout the warmer seasons. But in the absence of those loud, lovely summer songs, we are able to hear the wintery mating calls of area owls that can be difficult to find by sight. Wisconsin’s four most common non-migratory owls are the Northern Saw-whet, Eastern Screech, Barred, and Great Horned Owl. 
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Wednesday, 10 February 2021
There is certainly no shortage of snow in the Milwaukee area this winter! While this may mean more time spent shoveling and snow-blowing, it also means more opportunities to see the animal tracks left behind by our local critters! Fun family adventures and lasting memories are waiting as close as your backyard or neighborhood parks. All you need is company and warm clothes (and maybe a ruler and camera if you want to do some serious detective work).
Written by Urban Ecology Center
Monday, 08 February 2021
A growing body of research confirms what we might have intuitively known all along: it’s good to stop and smell the roses! Research shows that time in nature is good for our mental health. More specifically, an emerging scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression1.

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