Sparky Stensaas

We have a lot of luminaries as volunteer hosts and guests on KUMD and Northland Morning ... but the The Independent Book Publishers Association has just given one of them - well, two of them, actually - a national award.

Sparky Stensaas is the founder of Stone Ridge Press which publishes regional and national
outdoors and nature books. In addition to being the Executive Director of Friends of Sax-Zim Bog, Sparky has been known to host Backyard Almanac when regular host Larry Weber takes a few days off.

BM1 Sayers/U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Phenologist Sparky Stensaas has been keeping journals and recording events in the natural world since he moved here in 1981. Flipping back through the pages, he saw entries for the first laker leaving Duluth under the lift bridge: 1997, March 20 ... 1999, March 17 ... 2001, March 17 ... 2002, March 21..."

But even though the Duluth Seaway Port Authority said in a news release this week* that they'll start ice-breaking next Wednesday, the first laker probably won't be leaving any time soon.

©Sparky Stensaas. Used with permission.

Two years ago at this time, the Northland was bracing for a foot of snow.  29 years ago, it was -12 in Duluth.

We're looking at temps in the 40s and 50s this weekend; perfect time to scout out some Gray Jays building nests or watching Red Crossbills enjoying this year's bumper crop of pine cones.

©Sparky Stensaas. Used with permission.

Photo-naturalist Sparky Stensaas joins us as guest host of Backyard Almanac this morning, and brings us a story you probably won't hear over the breakfast table.

And there's a good reason for that.

It's Jaegerfest at Wisconsin Point this weekend!  Find out more about all the events here!

©Sparky Stensaas. Used with permission.

Special guest star Sparky Stensaas sits in for Larry Weber this morning, and talks about one of Larry's favorite plants: the much-maligned goldenrod.

For one thing, Larry says most people aren't allergic to goldenrod; they're allergic to ragweed.

There are TWO opportunities this weekend to participate in a detailed look at the natural world in the Northland.  It is BioBlitz weekend at the Sax-Zim Bog and at Hawk Ridge.   The two events will allow the avid naturalist and outdoor enthusiast to explore familiar sites with greater detail.

"It's the 'Arctic Riviera,'" says the executive director of Friends of Sax-Zim Bog. "There's a new cast of characters every winter."

Sparky Stensaas subs for Larry Weber this morning, and talks boreal chickadees ("they sound like regular chickadees with a cold"), some upcoming programs that will extend past the Visitor Center's regular season, and why an apparent absence of owls is a good thing.