March Phenology 2013: Sap, Birds & Ephemeral Flowers

Written by Phenology Team
    Wednesday, 13 March 2013
March Phenology 2013: Sap, Birds & Ephemeral Flowers

Spring is getting close, and important changes are already happening. You've probably already noticed that it's getting warmer and the days keep getting longer. Temperature and light are responsible for many changes to the landscape, which make spring a fun and beautiful season to track Phenology. Let's talk about these changes.


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Washington Park - It's Maple Syrup Time!

by Tim Vargo

Phenology is an interesting and complex field of study - but it also can be delicious! For centuries, people have relied on the weather to tell them when to start tapping sugar maple trees for sap - when high temps reach the 40's, and low temps dip below freezing.

But any maple, even the common Box Elder, can be tapped for sap, as can birch, hickory, walnut and sycamore (although you'll quickly see why sugar maple is the most popular). So experiment in your backyard or come to Washington Park and help us produce our special urban blend of syrup.


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Menomonee Valley - Birds are coming!

by Lainet Garcia-Rivera

You may have noticed that birds like the cardinal and the chickadee, which are mostly quiet during the winter, have begun singing again. Other birds which we haven't seen for months are starting to re-appear as they migrate north.

Birds use a combination of clues, such as longer daylight and temperature changes to begin migration. Waterfowl, herons and kingfishers arrive as soon as lakes and marshes defrost. Red-winged blackbirds and Killdeer have already arrived at the Menomonee Valley. Join us on Tuesday mornings at 8:00am for bird walks to help us track the rest of spring migration.



Riverside Park - Ephemeral Emissaries!

by Matt Flower

You've all heard April Showers bring May Flowers, but what about March Snow Thaws bring a need for an Ephemeral Pause? Probably not, because I just made that up.

Ephemerals are flowers that appear for a brief time after the snow melts and before the trees get their leaves. They are not unusually tall, nor are they exceedingly showy; and with names like Bloodroot, Cut-leaf Toothwort and Trout-lily you might not know what to expect.

By taking a short walk down to the areas labeled Hackberry Split and Vernal Pond Trail on the Riverside Park Trails Map, these delicate and inconspicuous floral treasures await.


So the lesson to be learned is that changes in temperatures and light bring us syrup, birds and flowers. How fun it is to learn about Phenology! Don't miss the next post; we will continue talking about big changes in nature.

This is one of the Phenology Team's monthly posts. What is Phenology? Click here to read about it!

Phenology Team

Phenology Team

The Phenology Team is made up of representatives from the Center’s three branches: Matt Flower, Environmental Educator, Tim Vargo, Manager of Research and Citizen Science, and Lainet Garcia-Rivera, Community Program Coordinator. Each month they provide guidance on which phenological events to look for, and how you can follow the changes of nature’s calendar!

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