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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Spider from Anton Darius, parachutes from Sergey Pakhomov/Unsplash

Was it really only last week we were bemoaning the end of Aut-win?

It's one of Larry's favorite seasons; that wonderful in-between-time when the leaves are off the trees and before the snow has fallen to stay.

First it seemed like the shortest Aut-win on record, like the snow was here for good.  But that was before a couple of record-breaking days in the 70s this week.

Stargazing without bugs, kiting spiderlings and more on this week's edition of Backyard Almanac!

MN Association for Environmental Education

Here's something that will appeal to phenology fans, even though it's a first-time occurence:  Larry Weber is getting a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Minnesota Association for Environmental Education, "for his outstanding service and contribution to the field of environmental education in Minnesota."

More information about Larry, his award, and how you can congratulate him at the virtual ceremony, Sunday, November 8 from 2:0pm to 4:00pm, is available here.

Two weeks ago it was 80°.

A week ago, there was no snow.

Last Friday, Larry Weber was heralding the beginning of Aut-Win.

Eight days of aut-win?  Is this the shortest aut-win EVER?

©Lisa Johnson

Aut-win, for those new to Backyard Almanac, is that time of year after Leaf Dropand before the first lasting snow.

Aut-win arrived on the heels of some hard rain and gusty winds Sunday into Monday when Leaf Dropofficially took place.

But fear not: Tamarack Timeis just getting started!

Copyright Bryan French. Used with permission.

Right up there with ice out, freeze up, and first snow is LEAF DROP.

And Larry wants us to know it's a deliberate act on the part of trees.

Copyright John P. Richardson. Used with permission.

It's been another record-setting week in the Northland ...

September came in only 1° cooler than normal this year, but we saw less than an inch of rain, compared with the four inches or so we usually get.

That means, so far this year, September and June are going down as some of the driest on record.

Milkweeds, on the other hand, need dry conditions to form pods that then split open so they can disperse their seeds.

And another record was broken yesterday at Hawk Ridge.  They made this announcement on their social media:

Fall colors along a hiking trail
Christine Dean for KUMD

It's officially fall; the days are getting shorter and the trees are putting on a colorful display.

There are still late season wildflowers adding to the color, and milkweed pods are opening to release their seeds.

Mushrooms, migrating ducks, bats, and bugs are all part of this week's phenology report from Larry Weber.

Photo by Autumn Mott Rodeheaver on Unsplash

This is the final weekend of summer, what with next weekend's autumnal equinox and all.

The BWCA was named, not just the newest dark sky sanctuary but the largest

Lots of migrants passing through Hawk Ridge, but non-winged ones (like snakes) are on the move as well.

Plus some suddenly develop wings (giant water bugs), infant snapping turtles are out, and it's color, color everywhere.

Eltjo Poort/Flickr

The autumnal equinox isn't until next week, but Larry says frost on the pumpkin - or spider web - and temperatures in the 30s means fall.

But stay on the lookout for birds, butterflies, and dragonflies at Hawk Ridge; insects buzzin' in the goldenrod; apples, high-bush cranberries and more getting ripe; mushrooms and yes, tiny, tiny snapping turtles.

©Lisa Johnson

It's that time again.  If you're not distracted by raptors and Canada geese and nighthawks streaming overhead, maybe you'll pull your car over to the side of the road and take a stroll through the goldenrod, where you can find a wide variety of insects and bees ... and maybe even Larry Weber.


The rain this week has been inconsistent. Larry says the National Weather Service in Duluth reports 3" of rain while he clocked 7" at his place a little further south.

But  whether it's thousands of nighthawks flowing by Hawk Ridge this week, flying ants, or avoiding falling acons, Larry says there are all kinds if changes consistently taking place in the natural world, as we get ready to say goodbye to Awesome August.

Kilarov Zaneit/Unsplash

The start of school is coming.  It's unavoidable.

Summer is winding down.  It's unavoidable.

But these days, dubbed "the Sad Days" by a school-age Larry Weber, now bring countless delights.

Gale Oxley/Minnesota Mycological Society

Could it be?

We're halfway between the June solstice and the autumnal equinox?

Peter M. Dziuk/Minnesota Wildflowers

Much cooler weather seemed strange and remarkable this past week, but Larry Weber says, that's because temperatures dropped down to "normal" from nasty hot.

Lisa Johnson/JR Kelsey

July has lost its crack at record-setting heat for the month, and its regained a couple of inches on the rainfall deficit.

But what it's losing in hours of daylight and birdsong in the morning, it's more than making up for in young birds and animals, the next batch of wildflowers, and, of course, berries.