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Environment & Outdoors
Phenology with local naturalist Larry Weber every Friday morning at 8:20 on Northland Morning.

Backyard Almanac: "The Greening Month" after all

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Chris Harwood
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What a difference a week makes

"May," as Larry Weber says, "is 'the greening month.'"

Last month, that moniker almost seemed uncertain for this year. But the below average cold has given way to a sudden warm spell that has included 2.5 inches of rain for May so far – well above normal. The grasses that were brown the other day are rapidly greening up. We are now surpassing 15 hours of daylight, and there's also a total lunar eclipse that will happen on Sunday night.

Raptor migration continues, and this week Larry has seen broad-winged hawks appearing in the mix. Also waterfowl: in addition to ducks, sandpipers are on the scene. But the real migration in this time of May, says Larry, is the songbird; about twenty-six species of warblers will be passing through, and about half will stay to next in this area. This is the time to see them before the leaves grow on the trees. Chipping sparrows, rose-breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles, hummingbirds, thrushes, and blue jays are appearing. Female red-winged blackbirds are arriving now in the marches (the males began showing up around a month ago). The fourth of the spring frogs, the grey tree frog, is now appearing too. Painted turtles are basking on logs, and Larry has seen his first garter snake.

Wildflowers are now growing abundantly on the forest floor, getting as much sun as they can before the leaves come out. About twenty varieties will peak in the next 10 days. Larry was excited to see the fiddleheads of the interrupted fern much earlier than usual.