Backyard Almanac

Phenology with local naturalist Larry Weber every Friday morning at 8:20 on Northland Morning. Have a question for Larry Weber? Email us and you might hear his answer on the show!


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Seabrooke Leckie/Flickr

The Child is adorable ... but you won't find him/her/them on your local neighborhood, Governor-sanctioned outdoor traipses.

What you can look for, though, is The Infant.

Peter Swaine/American Woodcock

Larry Weber is gonna make you feel better about just about everything today.

The backyard is going to become more interesting as we stay at home for a couple of weeks, fog and calm are terrific conditions for hearing sounds, sap's flowing, buds are popping,  and today's warm temperatures could even result in butterflies.

Szilvia Basso/Unsplash

It feels like the world has gone pear-shaped overnight.

Even so, Larry Weber reminds us that "Mother Nature is still responding with spring."

And maybe, if you're being forced to out of the fast lane for a bit, this is just the opportunity to spend a little time in your own backyard, welcoming spring.

Cam Miller/Flickr

Spring hasn't quite sprung - that will be next week on March 19, the earliest vernal equinox in over 100 years.

Meanwhile, whatever we may think about the winter, the DNR's Winter Severity Index of 130 says it was a tough one.  And the deer agree.

Judy Gibbs. Used with permission.

Larry Weber is the kind of guy who notices things.

So it shouldn't have come as a surprise, when he announced he'd be gone this week, that he recommended Judy Gibbs as a guest host, and commented that there needed to be more women on the "Backyard Almanac special guest host" bench.

So we're particularly delighted to present the debut of Northland Morning's first woman as guest host, longtime phenologist and Duluth's Trees, Trails and Bikeways Coordinator.

The Real Kam 75/Flickr

Whether you celebrate the return of spring March 1 (meteorologically) or March 19 (astronomically. vernal equinox blah blah blah), Larry says he's getting the impression people are ready to be done with February.


It seems we're at sixes and sevens these days.

Beginning Sunday, our sunrises begin before 7:00am - 14 days later they bounce back to just before 6:00am.

JLS Photography Alaska/Flickr

Greg Schechter [via Flickr]

Larry Weber notes that the February snows are, as usual, light and dry; not much has fallen in the past couple weeks.  The warm temps that gave way to the cold temps have created a crusty layer of snow on top of the deep snow pack.  While this is not so much fun for deer whose legs have to punch through it, it is great for lighter, smaller animals like the fox who now can walk across the top of it.

Finland Lakeland/Flickr

"Every step was squishy."

That's how Larry Weber described his own lake walk this past week. 

Luckily the ice is fundamentally thick enough not to break through, but it's covered with a layer of slush that does make travel difficult.

Larry wraps up a remarkable January (remarkable because it wasn't), ponders how warm it will actually get this weekend, reminisces about the -60 in Tower back on Feb. 2, 1996 and observes some signs of spring.


It troubles Larry Weber that people call them "snowfleas."

©JR Kelsey. Used with permission.

Every month is like January these days.

In the sense that the Roman god Janus, from whom the month takes its name, is usually shown having two heads or faces.  Janus is the god of beginnings and endings, the future and the past, and transitions.

Brent Johns

Larry Weber's been talking about AutWin for years, but he's finally written a book about it.

Then he and Sparky Stensaas teamed up to illustrate it with lush photos of the animals, plants, birds, berries, nuts, insects and spiders you can find at that magical time of year after the leaf drop and before the first there-for-the-duration snowfall.

In other news, the first half of January has been "unimpressive," but the snow cover is great  for seeing  animal tracks.

Phil Gayton/Flickr

Larry Weber has a wrap-up of December, some good news about tomorrow (the sun starts rising earlier!) and a group of Northland residents who weren't just tolerating last weekend's rain ... they were lichen it.

Christopher Harwood

Larry Weber makes many interesting year-end observations when looking back over 2019.  Here are a few: January was colder than normal, including twice when temps dropped below -40.  We set a February record for snowfall.  March and April didn't see a lot of snow, but May did and set another record.