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Phenology

Nature Notes: Misty mornings on the Mighty Miss

Mist rising from the Mississippi on a cold December dawn

Mist rises from the Mississippi just east of downtown St. Paul on a cold December dawn.

Ever wonder why there's a wintry mist on the water in the morning, but not later in the day? Even when it's still quite cold?

January 6

Red fox: Two paws, one print

Red fox

The red fox is a common yet fascinating animal in the Mississippi River valley.

The red fox is a common yet fascinating animal in the Mississippi River valley. Winter's a great time to spot their tracks — if you know what to look for.

December 8

Dead man’s fingers found at Pine Bend Bluffs

Dead man's finger found at Pine Bend Bluffs

Dead man's fingers is a fungus found at the base of decaying hardwood trees. (Photo by Karen Schik)

FMR Lead Ecologist Karen Schik found this spooky-looking fungus deep in the oak forest ravines at Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific and Natural Area.

November 7

Earthworms invade our forest floor

A field assistant prepares to collect a nightcrawler for analysis as part of an earthworm sampling project in Minnesota forests.

A field assistant prepares to collect a nightcrawler for analysis as part of an earthworm sampling project in Minnesota forests. Photo: Alex Roth

When people think about phenology, the study of natural phenomena and cycles, they usually look up. We tend to focus on events like bud break, bird migration, leaf fall, etc. But what about the changes going on beneath our feet? Looking down once in a while may help you familiarize yourself with the buzz of activity underfoot, including the effects of one particularly damaging invasive species: earthworms.

September 12

Earthworms invade our forest floor

When people think about natural seasonal changes, we usually look up — bud break, bird migration, leaf change, etc. But what about the natural world under our feet? There's a buzz of activity, including the effects of one particularly damaging invasive species: earthworms. >>

September 1

Blazing blooms!

Arrowhead flowers

The blazing white flowers of the arrowhead plant (Sagittaria latifolia) seem to light up the shoreland areas where they grow.

July and August are the most flowerful months in our native prairies and wetlands. Enjoy a few of the beauties FMR ecologists have recently come across in their field work.

August 9

Mini-mystery revealed: They're caterpillar houses.

The bagworm caterpillar is safe when left in its tiny house.

The vulnerable bagworm caterpillar is safe from most predators inside the case it built around itself. Only its head and forelegs extend as it moves about, then readily retreat if danger threatens. 

The little known, but very abundant, bagworm moth has recently emerged from the protection of the home it built and carried on its back throughout its larval-hood!

July 8

Dung Beetles: Waste Warriors!

Among the world’s smallest sanitation engineers, the dung beetle takes on the task of managing the world’s copious quantities animal waste with enthusiasm and rivalry!

June 13

Spring nighthawks: Acrobats of the bird world

Common nighthawk

The common nighthawk is known for its distinctive "peent" and graceful swoops and dives at dusk. Photo courtesy of Kim Taylor.

When you hear the distinctive call of these late Mississippi River flyway migrants, look to the early evening skies to enjoy their graceful dusk-hour dives.  

May 4

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