The International Crane Foundation is reopening soon, with their grand reopening scheduled for May 1st! As many cranes are migratory, moving with the seasons to different breeding and wintering grounds, I thought now would be a great time to think about birding as a means to engage with phenology. Spring is a great time for phenological observation, with so many species changing – plants are blooming, birds are returning from their overwintering locations, and insects are emerging once again (noticing the beginning of the annual cicada cacophony is a valuable phenological observation!) With many birds being migratory and having unique seasonal behaviors, they are great ways to notice natural changes over time. Birding is a very popular activity, and getting started is as easy as looking out the window.

Want more tips on beginner birding? Watch this PBS video with Black Birders’ Week founder Sheridan Alford covering Birding 101:

There are dozens of resources you can use for both birding and keeping phenology notes: in addition to the International Crane Foundation (ICF), the Friends of Capital Springs have notes on identifying local birds, and you can check out your local Audubon for even more in-depth info. If you want to help ornithologists, otherwise known as bird scientists, you can contribute your bird sightings on eBird and be a part of citizen science. The Cornell Ornithology Lab, which runs eBird, also has an app called Merlin, which helps you identify birds you see whether you get a picture or just describe them.

In terms of phenology resources, check out the MSCR’s video on nature journaling for kids, then see the ICF’s page on nature journals for even more ideas and links! You can even consult an almanac or a phenology calendar to know when to expect certain nature events to occur, like when different plants will bloom or certain animals will be out with their young. Plus, keep checking the Aldo Leopold Nature Center’s Facebook, Instagram, and newsletter for regular phenology updates!

By engaging with phenology, you can become more in tune with the natural world, and better understand and appreciate how nature works. When we build connections to nature, we strengthen our ability to do good, be healthy, and create better futures for all living things.

In Case You Missed It…

  • The Madison Children’s Museum will be debuting a new exhibit this summer upcycled from their former parking lot! It will feature 10,000 feet of new play space.
  • Nature Net released a set of digital nature passport challenges for Earth Day this year. Visit our Earth Day page to find the keywords you can text for nature adventures!
  • Three otter pups named after rivers in Wisconsin – Lily, Montello, and Fisher, were born this April. Keep a look out for the date of their official public debut on the zoo’s social media.

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Lia Tziortzis has been Nature Net’s intern since August 2020.
She is dedicated to promoting environmental education for all.
Funding for Nature Net and the Nature Net News blog
is provided by American Girl Fund for Children.