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Displaying items by tag: Phenology

We know COVID-19 is affecting everyone in Milwaukee County in many different and difficult ways. We are now spending a lot of time indoors living, working, and teaching as we care for ourselves and one another through physical distancing. However we also know that nature has incredible healing and calming powers that we want you to take advantage of during this stressful time. Whether that is in your backyard, in a park, or even through your window, we hope you have the chance to interact with the outdoors. Before you head outside, please abide by all health and social distancing recommendations by the CDC as well as by local health officials as they can change with every passing day. Please use your best judgment as your safety and ultimately the public’s safety is of utmost importance.

Met with the blaring calls of the Red-winged Blackbirds and joyful chatter of Robins when stepping outside, you know it’s springtime in Wisconsin. These sounds create a feeling of warmth and excitement for the summer months that are just around the corner, and are a sure sign of the changing seasons. There are, though, harbingers of spring that aren’t so vociferous. In fact, two species in particular are rather silent in their seasonal debut, but just as telling. The Mourning Cloak butterfly and the Butler’s Gartersnake are two species that rise from their winter hibernation rather than migrating back into Wisconsin.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020 01:36

Take a Virtual Nature Walk with Chad!

We're encouraging our staff to share the natural discoveries they've found on their walks. Come along on a "virtual nature walk" with our Environmental Educator Chad Thomack, and hear stories about his recent discoveries in nature!

Tuesday, 17 March 2020 15:44

Phenology in the Time of a Pandemic

There are few rules to hiking beyond “leave no trace” and “stay on the trail,” but another unspoken one is “give other folks their space.” In other words, polite hikers have been practicing “social distancing” for ages! Just because kids don’t have school to go to for the time being doesn’t mean we all have to spend the next bit of time cooped up in the house. In fact, the natural world has kept on doing its thing while we’ve been busy with math assignments and playdates and seemingly endless meetings, and spring is the perfect time to get back out there. The Urban Ecology Center’s mission to connect people in cities to nature isn’t going anywhere, and this is the first in a series of blog posts with ideas on how to keep getting outside.

Wednesday, 01 March 2017 16:17

Red Wings and Early Spring

For those of you who may not know, we have an organization-wide phenology competition every year to document the first of year (FoY) Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Chipmunk, Mourning Cloak, and Butler's Gartersnake. The documentation of these four species typically signifies the arrival of spring and the dismissal of winter. This year's unseasonal warm weather, however, has a resulted in an uncomfortably early kickoff.

Many of the Urban Ecology Center staff, volunteers and community members love taking photographs of the wildlife and vegetation in our parks. Who can discount the natural beauty of an unfurling fiddlehead or the pure white flower of the bloodroot? Many photographers find the natural world a source of limitless inspiration for their art. Others take photographs to record phenological observations. Phenology is the study of the timing of natural events, such as the first bud break, the first appearance of a migratory animal, the making and breaking of ice on lakes and more. The first appearance of the nodding head of the yellow trout lily is not only photogenic, but it is also a harbinger of spring. The date of bloom is a phenological record and here at the Center, we like to record these observations. In fact, there is a long standing—and fierce—competition to observe the first chipmunk of the year.

With the addition of 25 acres of land along the Milwaukee River and Oak Leaf Trail to the existing 15 acres of restored natural lands of Riverside Park, we are gearing up for adventures and exploration of our new 40-acre Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum. You are invited to join in the fun through our new volunteer docent program. This training will prepare you to lead other nature and outdoor enthusiasts in learning about the Arboretum.

Friday, 28 June 2013 15:38

June Phenology 2013: Fantastic Flowers

Flowers are fascinating! They adapt to a wide variety of growing conditions, provide food for insects, and intrigue us with the origins of their names. As we exit June and summer hits its stride, take a look at this overview of the flowers (like the blue flag iris to the right) that you can find right now!

Every new day in May brings out plants and critters that re-emerge after their winter absence. Warmer temperatures and longer days allow plants to re-emerge from soil and leaves and flowers to burst forth from trees. These provide food for insects, which are food for frogs, birds and mammals and so on.  Here are some things to look for outside in May.

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 12:31

April Phenology 2013: Spring has Sprung

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.

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