CSI Phenology Phun

Written by Matt Flower
    Tuesday, 05 March 2013
CSI Phenology Phun

A good CSI detective needs tools, clues and evidence to try and recreate a crime scene.  In the case of phenology, you also need tools, clues and evidence to recreate an accurate picture of an ecosystem. 

The tools of a naturalist are the usual suspects - camera, binoculars, hand lens, field guides, and time to "walk the beat". But, the best tools you have are your five senses! Humans are hard-wired for noticing and sensing changes in our environment and recognizing patterns.

Your clues can be summed up by the acronym TELS: Tracks, Eat, Live and Scat. Certain seasons are better than others for collecting your evidence. Our current season, winter, is naturalist gold! It is an especially good season for gathering evidence of animals that are active this time of year because of the snow.

Snow is like the dust that a CSI detective might use to collect an invisible fingerprint leading to a prime suspect. Hollowed out trees and inconspicuous holes can be seen as starting and ending points to animal highways that you can follow and map. These “animal highways” also help in "tracking" the behavior of an animal, because you'll be able to see where they live or sleep, where they eat and what they eat (ewwwww!).

Start your CSI adventure with our favorite "bandit" the Raccoon! Look for the TELS clues to find out more about the life of raccoons in our area. You can start by following the tracks below…

Matt Flower

Matt Flower

Environmental Educator Matt Flower joined the Urban Ecology Center in 2006.  Matt received his Naturalist training at Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg, Wisconsin and was an Educator and Land Manager at Neighborhood House’s Nature Center. He is married with two young children. Matt’s interests include birds, wild edibles, trees, winter ecology and, most of all, teaching kids how to explore wild spaces and make nature come alive. For Matt, a smile is worth a thousand words. He finds it empowering to work with people who love what they do.


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