Photo by Corey Husic

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Welcome back to the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks

Towards the end of this past week, I noticed the first reports of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in the state.  Bright and early this morning, a gorgeous male in fresh plumage was atop of our weeping cherry illuminated by the sun.  Another was singing in the woods behind our house.  This species is the herald for a number of other returning neotropical songbirds, so this coming week should bring some good birding.

After the mild winter and unusually warm weather in March, we have had much cooler weather recently in April and the spring advance has slowed.  Thus, I was curious as to how today’s arrival of the grosbeak compared to the trends we have been following. Below are the graphs plotting data from long-term records donated to the Eastern PA Phenology Project (Northampton, Lehigh, Carbon, and Monroe Counties) and from analysis of eBird data for the entire state.
Our bird today was pretty much right on target based on the trends for sightings north of the Kittatinny Ridge. 
First Day of Arrival of Rose-breasted Grosbeak
(Eastern PA Phenology Project Data)
Compiled by Anna Meola

First Day of Arrival of Rose-breasted Grosbeak
(All of PA data from eBird)
Compiled by Anna Meola

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nature on the Move?

The iConservePA program of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has been producing short videos for the Science Afield series that illustrate both the impact of changes in our environment and the important roles of citizens in observing and understanding these changes.  A new episode was recently posted that discusses the interrelationships between climate change and species important to the Commonwealth.  Science Afield, episode 2 - Nature on the Move?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Comparing two years

Here are a few dates for phenological observations at Lehigh Gap, Lehigh County, PA in 2011 and 2012. Note that last year we had a warm spell in February, then a colder March, but still had an early spring for some things. This year is really unusual.

First Cabbage White butterfly
April 4, 2011
March 12, 2012
First Tree Swallow
April 4, 2011
March 14, 2012
First Trailing Arbutus (at Sheep Mountain, Franklin Twp, Carbon County, PA)
April 9, 2011
March 22, 2012
First Field Sparrow song
April 11, 2011
March 19, 2012
First Serviceberry Blossoms
April 21, 2011
March 23, 2012
First Maple flowers open
April 4, 2011
March 15, 2012

It has gotten cooler and little more seasonable lately, but now we are in drought. If that lasts, it could have significant consequences. Stay tuned.