Why do birds sing in the morning?

Trying to sleep in on a weekend morning in early June, I was awakened by my neighbors. It wasn’t a loud phone call, a.m. dance party or super-loud footsteps upstairs. In fact, it wasn’t even my human neighbors. A Brown thrasher, American robin, and Northern mockingbird had started singing their little hearts out. Looking out the window, I noticed that …

Phenology: Timing is Everything

Being a beginner naturalist means learning the answers to lots of what, why, where, and how questions. What is a lichen? Why do bugs gather around streetlights? Where do you go if you want to spot a kingfisher? How do trees move their seeds to new locations? But we tend to overlook questions of when. Nature is dynamic, things are …

Catkins: When Trees Make You Sneeze

Observing nature is a fantastic way to track the seasons. After a long winter, most people are eager for signs of spring. We may find ourselves looking for the first robin in our back yard, or for trees to start leafing out. In today’s Wildlife Spotlight, I’m focusing on a poorly known but very early sign of winter’s end: catkins. …

Vernal Pools and why they’re totally awesome

Spring is a fleeting and fickle season. Warm weather often comes and goes a few times before it finally settles in for good. Flowers start to bloom on trees and out of the ground as it thaws. In many temperate areas and higher latitudes, melting snow from the winter, and increased rains, lead to a wetter landscape. Many of us …