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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Garth Williams, original sketch for "Charlotte's Web," 1952

Aut-win proceeds apace, that time between the leaf drop and the first lasting snow cover.

Thanks to the end of Daylight Saving Time, we'll get a 25-hour day on Sunday.

What do you play to do with your extra hour? Watch the hawk migration continue at Hawk Ridge


Larry Weber's been talking about "leaf drop," a natural occurence that usually falls (pun intended) between October 15 and 20th.

But he never said anything about "leaf hurricane."

All about aut-win, anticipating the changing of the clocks, the skinny on migration and the strange beauty of  "escaped" asparagus on this edition of Backyard Almanac.

Autumn Mott Rodeheaver/Unsplash

It's that time of October again when Mother Nature sends us some yard work, and since KUMD listeners were (appropriately) becoming members and watching it snow last weekend, the gorgeous few days to come will be just perfect for buttoning up the last of the yard work.

©Lisa Johnson

Larry Weber did a little traveling around western Minnesota this last week and took in decidual forests, aspen parklands, and prairie country.

But despite seeing plenty of migrants and leaf color, he just couldn't find a public radio station he likes as much as KUMD.

Chris Harwood

"Sensational September" is now over, and naturalist and author Larry Weber notes that, despite what you may think, September was actually 2 degrees warmer than normal.  Not many hot days, but there were also not many chilly days.  But there was also about 1.5 inches more precipitation than usual.

Schwester M.Jutta/Pixabay

" Samara."

That's what they're called: samara.

And of course, they're "a winged achene, a type of fruit in which a flattened wing of fibrous, papery tissue develops from the ovary wall. A samara is a simple dry fruit and indehiscent (not opening along a seam). The shape of a samara enables the wind to carry the seed farther away than regular seeds from the parent tree, and is thus a form of anemochory."


As we enter the last weekend of summer, Larry says despite it being warmer and drier than usual, we're actually above normal, precipitation-wise, for the entire year thanks to this past week.

Frances Gunn/Unsplash

Red sky at night, sailors' delight.
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning...

Larry found that old adage true when a red sunrise this week gave way to rain and thunderstorms ...

Meanwhile, September is stacking up sensationally with winged ants, pelecinid wasps, glow worms, leaf color and avian migrants.

And there's no telling what you'll see if you take his advice and stroll into a patch of goldenrod.  Look for bumblebees and perhaps, a bearded naturalist!

©Lisa Johnson

Last week, Larry spent Friday at an "undisclosed location."  This week, he was back home, and so busy watching flocks of warblers hunting insects in the sunshine, cedar waxwings on a wild black cherry and frankly, stuffing black cherries into his mouth, that he had to call in from his morning walk. 

(Also, check out Astro Bob's Backyard Astronomy this week to find out when to see the northern lights this weekend!)

Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren [via Flickr]

This week we are joined by John Richardson, Count Interpreter for the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.  Hawk Ridge is gearing up for another season, and John reports that activity began picking up last week.  Many great birds have already been spotted, including common nighthawks, bald eagles, and broad-winged hawks.  Also they were delighted a few days ago to spot a black vulture!


So far, August is shaping up to be July ... at 50% intensity, or something.

It's been warmer than normal (but not as much as last month) and drier than normal (but not as much as last month).

"Awesome August," as Larry calls it, does have it's own unique charms, too: like it's own wildflowers, the earlier wildflowers going to seed, and an abundance of animals, birds and insects on the move.

Lisa Johnson

Larry Weber can't get enough awesome August.

Despite shorter days, the temps have cooled just enough and the winds have switched just enough to make the perfect mosquito repellent.

A lot of the little ones that were born and hatched over the summer are out and about these days, new wildflowers are cropping up all the time, and it's a berry good time for a walk in the woods!


Larry Weber is enjoying all the ingredients of a Perfect Mosquito Morning plus he's got all our stats for July and a look forward into August.

Larry also reports a young barred owl at his place, calling for its parents.  You can listen to the barred owl's call here.

©Lisa Johnson

Larry Weber's not on social media, but its tentacles reached out to him anyway so he could answer the trending question: are there more white pelicans around here than usual for this time of year?

And here's some Phenology phenology: what we were talking about last year at this time:

tiny packages/Flickr

Larry Weber says he can accept the warmer-than-usual temperatures of the past week, but he's having trouble accepting the precipitation totals - less than a third of normal so far this month.

Plus the wide range of plants, birds and animals that are just getting started with the spring thing ... and who's already on their way back south.

And here's some Phenology phenology: what we were talking about last year at this time: