Milwaukee Summer Phenology Challenge and Spring Results

Written by Ethan Bott
    Monday, 01 June 2020
Eastern Phoebe. Photo by Bruce Halmo Eastern Phoebe. Photo by Bruce Halmo

Back in March, the Urban Ecology Center challenged you all to help document signs of spring in Milwaukee using iNaturalist (free mobile phone app) as a means of documenting and submitting data to an international dataset. There were nearly 400 springtime observations that you all recorded! You all helped identify 32 species which is nearly all of the species we challenged you with spotting. I couple of species that eluded documenting, was the Pasque Flower and the Spring Peeper. Both can be tough to spot! Additionally, we had 84 people submit data that fit within our phenology challenge requirements. Bloodroot had the most number of identifications with 44 people spotting it. 

The American Robin took second with 31 observations. Some species that were only identified once were a Killdeer, Wild Strawberry and Pussy Willow. Spring will come again so be sure to keep your eye out for them next year! Feel free to search on iNaturalist and then join the “Spring Phenology in Milwaukee 2020” project if you want to see a full list of the results and observations. With the spring phenology (responses of plants and animals to changes in seasonal and climate) challenge wrapped up, we are now starting the summer phenology challenge on June 1st that will run until September 1st. Please join us as we document summer with another list of plants and animals.

killdeer 1

Killdeer spotted at Washington Park. Photo by Alex LaBonte, UEC Environmental Educator 

 We will be using iNaturalist where you can record and submit your data for this challenge. Just make sure that you take a picture in Milwaukee County and that it is one of our summer phenology challenge species! Otherwise, you are welcome to join the “Summer Phenology in Milwaukee 2020” project on iNaturalist if you want to follow along. You can find directions on what iNaturalist is and how to get started with it with this blog. We hope you are able to participate in this summer phenology challenge! Here is our list of Summer Phenology Species that you can spot in your own backyard or window! If you want to do research ahead of time, you can find many images of these species online to prepare yourself.


Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis) flowering and berries

Big blue-stem (Andropogon gerardii)

Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Blue flag iris (Iris virginica)

Calico aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

Canada tick-trefoil (Desmodium canadense)

Canada wild-rye (Elymus canadensis)

Common milkweed (Ascelpias syriaca)

Compassplant (Silphium laciniatum)

Daisy fleabane (Erigeron annuus)

Dotted horsemint (Monarda punctata)

Monarda/ bee balm (Monarda fistulosa)

Pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida)

Penstemon/ tall beard-tongue (Penstemon digitalis)

Prairie blazingstar (Liatris pycnostachya)

Prairie spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis)

Purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea)

Red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) flowering and then berries

Side-oats grama grass (Bouteloua curtipendula)

Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Yellow coneflower (Ratabida pinnata)

black eyed susan

Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta). Photo by Rylee Thorson, UEC Marketing Intern. 



*Any Bat Sighting

Baltimore Oriole

Barn Swallow

Bumble Bees

Cabbage white

Candy-striped Leafhopper


Common Green Darner

Common Yellowthroat

DeKays Brownsnake

Gray Catbird

Indigo Bunting

Monarch Caterpillars

Painted Lady

Painted Turtle


Snapping Turtle


Widow Skimmer

Yellow Warbler

ResizeYEWA05 13 19 1

Yellow Warbler. Photo by Bruce Halmo, Research and Community Science Volunteer. 

*Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your sighting if you happen to see a bat prior to May 15th as they are nearly impossible to capture a photo of during the night.

If you are interested in contributing general phenology data specifically at our Urban Ecology Center branches, you can search and then join the “Urban Ecology Center Phenology” to contribute data to this long term project. Remember, you must have taken the photo within the park boundaries or it won’t get filtered into the Urban Ecology Center Phenology project.

For further explanation and instructions about using iNaturalist, check out the Getting Started guide. Or check out their video tutorial guide for a more thorough explanation!

As of last reminders:

  • Please always stay on the trails and never pick, dig up or remove any plants! The trampling of vegetation is illegal according to the Milwaukee County Parks ordinance.
  • Please practice - Leave No Trace.
  • Please abide by CDC social distancing guidelines and maintain a distance of more than 6 feet apart from others if you are outside.
  • Lastly, have fun and we hope to see your summer time observations!
Photo Credit: Eastern Phoebe. Photo by Bruce Halmo
Ethan Bott

Ethan Bott

Ethan Bott is the GIS and Field Data Coordinator for all three branches and is a part of the Research and Community Science Team.  He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point studying Hydrology and GIS. Ethan has been a longtime volunteer, a high school Outdoor Leader, a summer intern, and now he is part of the staff! When he’s not busy crunching numbers or making maps, you will find him backpacking, kayaking, skiing, fishing or doing any number of fun activities outside. He hopes to make ecology and conservation a true community effort where the people doing the science are just as diverse as the subjects being researched.


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