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!


Ways to Connect

Jeremy Austin/Flickr

Take advantage of the breezy days; Larry Weber says the northwesterly winds this morning are doing a fine job of keeping the mosquitos and blackflies away.

There's also still time to catch the tail end of the first phase of wildflowers and the beginning of the second, plus frogs are calling, birds are nesting, turtles are laying eggs and you can't swing a dandelion without hitting a butterfly or dragonfly!


It might be you, too, but the world really did change overnight.

Our high temperature yesterday of 73° yesterday - the first time above 70° since October 9 - broke our seven-month fast from warm temperatures.

Now all of a sudden trees are leafing, baby turtles are moving, wild plum and juneberry bushes are awash in blossoms ... and the blackflies are out.

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.

©John P. Richardson. Used with permission.

Tra la, it's May, the lusty month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray

Tra la, it's here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear

It's mad, it's gay, a libelous display
Those dreary vows that everyone takes
Everyone breaks
Everyone makes divine mistakes
The lusty month of May!

~ Frederick Loewe & Alan Jay Lerner, "Camelot"

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.

©JR Kelsey. Used with permission.

The vernal ponds that so delighted Larry last week suffered a setback for a few days: they froze over again.

But Larry is delighted to report ice out again, open water in spots, the call of a loon, a chorus of frogs ...

And all these riches can only mean one thing: the return of WIN-SPRIN!!

Andrew DuBois/Flickr

Larry Weber's recounting of this week's snow squall was so realistic, we actually lost his phone signal this morning.

When he returned, he had news of juncos, at least three kinds of sparrows, and a fruitful snipe hunt, plus a big brown bat sighting and what he called "the greatest critter news of the week."

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.