Warblers

Plant Image Library [Via Flickr]

Early spring leaves are beginning to emerge, but the forest floor wildflowers are soaking up as much sun as they can before being shaded by the leaf canopy. Warblers are beginning to return north in search of caterpillars, their spring food source, but the early leaf growth may cause caterpillars to cocoon before the warblers arrive. And a notable lack of rain yet in May has put the Northland back into a fire hazard condition.

Sabishī/Flickr

If Larry has one piece of advice as April warms into May, it's: take a walk.  Every. Single. Day.

Janet Riegle (tree swallows), JR Kelsey (hermit thrush, leopard frog), Lisa Johnson (pelicans, maple, sweet coltsfoot)

Despite days of clouds, rain, and even snow showers, the second half of unpredictable April has been a little short of precipitation.

Luckily, we got a great day yesterday to see all kinds of flora and fauna, and starting today we go back to cool, cloudy, and a chance of rain or snow into next week.

Copyright JR Kelsey. Used with permission.

Mother Nature's in no hurry to balance out our too-dry conditions, although a little rain the other did day help.

And it sure gave "the greening" a goose as quaking aspens and smaller trees began to leaf out, and tamaracks sprouted new needles.

But serendipity plays a role when the trees' new leaves, the hatching of small caterpillars, and the warbler migration all occur at the same time, and Larry says, this might be the year.

Lisa Johnson

Anyone bemoaning the cool temperatures (despite the bright sunshine) need only remember last year at this time; although you may have blocvked it from your memory.

May 9, 2019: 8" in snow at the National Weather Service in Duluth: an all-time record for May.

Susanne Nilsson/Flickr

This final episode of Backyard Almanac for April reveals so far, the month was cooler, drier, and less snowy than uual.

We're seeing upwards of 14 hours of daylight these days,  ice is out (as are bumblebee queens), warblers are back and hepatica is up.

Lorie Shaull [via Flickr]

Naturalist Larry Weber reports the astonishing statistic that we've had more snow in May 2019 than either January 2019 or March 2019. 

Less than a month ago, there was still ice and snow on the ground.

Which means, despite a weekend forecast of mid to upper 80s, the season for spring ephemerals is a little more ephemeral than usual.

Susan Worner [via Flickr]

Naturalist larry Weber observes that following the 5th coldest April on record we moved into a warm start to May, then colder again.  Some much needed rain finally arrived (not much, but a good start), and many plants and blooms are beginning to emerge.  We've now reached over 15 hours of daylight.  Frogs and turtles are awakening, and many birds are returning.

For the first time in over a year, we have a month - May - where the temperature was cooler than normal.

But if anyone can find the silver lining in a cool, wet May, it would be Larry Weber.

Jack Pearce [via Flickr]

Naturalist Larry Weber talks about these mid-May mornings that are "beyond description" with so much happening as nature awakes.  Also, because leaves have not fully grown out yet, it is a greater opportunity to see both flora in fauna as you explore the woods of northern Minnesota.

Kevin Bolton [via Flickr]

Naturalist Larry Weber observes that, as the days grow shorter (now just 14 hours of daylight), many birds are on the move, including large families of warblers ("warbler waves"), raptors, geese, and nighthawks. The rain has brought out many mushrooms. Butterflies are on the scene, and so are cicadas, katydids and grasshoppers, and this means that spiders are on the hunt for insects! In plant life, fall flowers are blooming -- goldenrod, asters, and sunflowers (including Joe-Pye weed).

Lisa Johnson

Folks in Larry Weber's Minnesota Master Naturalist class don't sit around the campfire telling scary stories ... they go out after dusk looking for spiders and spider webs instead.

MagnoliaWarbler
Flickr // hjhipster

Skip work today.  Play hooky.

That's the word from Backyard Almanac's naturalist, educator and radio host, Larry Weber.

There are 26 species of warblers to identify, yellow lady slipper orchids to go in search of, red-winged blackbirds and black-winged red birds to enjoy, and "in addition to that", it's "toad time."