Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day by Reducing Your Plastic Use

One of the most noticeable phenological events of Spring in the Midwest United States is the arrival of the red winged black birds in March. These birds fly in from the South and take up residence on fence posts, power lines and tall reeds, creating a a weaving of red and yellow and black against a still brown backdrop. Shortly after the blackbirds arrive, the first robins of spring greet us and sandhill cranes fly in along with many other species.

These migratory birds that serve as heralds of spring are celebrated on World Migratory Bird Day (#WMBD #WMBD2019 #BirdDay). This day is celebrated twice a year, on the second Saturday in May and the second Saturday in October.

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Springtime and the Emergence of Citizen Science

Here in Wisconsin, we await with great anticipation, the March equinox and the days and months following, when the tilt of the earth as it orbits the sun brings more sunshine, longer days and warmer temperatures. We have been browsing seed catalogs, covertly starting seedlings in our basements for summer gardens, and even forcing a bulb or two in hopes that we can force spring. We look and listen for every phenological sign we can. When I heard and spotted my first red-winged blackbird of the year on my daily commute this week, my heart leapt with joy.

It seems as if everyone is a scientist, observing the world and commenting on this sign or that phenomenon: a minute longer between sunrise and sunset, the swelling of buds on tree limbs, or the appearance of a sandhill crane. And in the end, all of these “scientists” hypothesize that spring, must indeed, be around the corner.

Truthfully though, these very phenomena do allow everyone to be a scientist. Spring and the changes it brings: the appearance of amphibians, the migrations of birds, etc. provide the perfect opportunity for citizen science. Continue reading “Springtime and the Emergence of Citizen Science”