Photo by Corey Husic

Monday, April 21, 2014

Phenology Notes: April 21, 2014

One of the interesting things of living north of the Kittatinny Ridge and working south of it, is that I get 2 sets of all things spring! The difference can be amazing, even though the distance between Bethlehem and Kunkletown is about 20 - 23 miles. So in the southeast corner of Monroe County, the star magnolia (Magnolia stellate) are just coming in to peak bloom. The cold temps from a week ago (4/14) turned the tips of some of the petals brown, but most are in good shape. The ones in Bethlehem were nailed last week, as were the flowers on other species of magnolia. I was saddened by the hope of an amazing peak bloom on Monday morning, only to see the flowers in ruin the next day. By the way, remember the year without a winter 2 years ago? The magnolias in Bethlehem were in full bloom by March 20th!

Magnolia stellate
We had a harsh winter and many things this spring are late. We now await the toll that the frigid temps took on our landscape plantings. Today, the first flowers of our weeping cherry in Kunkletown opened; they peaked in Bethlehem last week. These are flowers that never last long enough for me, but the tree will attract countless bees over the short time period that it is blooming.  Did you know this tree is in the Rosaceae family?

Prunus subhirtella and Bombus sp. 
This was at 7:00 pm, just before "bedtime" for the bee.
Buds on the apple trees are forming. The flower buds on the lilacs are also now quite obvious. The National Phenology Network follows a cloned variety of lilacs (Syringa sp.) quite closely: For a bit of information on the 50 years of monitoring these, go to

If you follow the weather, you will notice that we now get pollen alerts with the forecast. The maple (Acer) trees are past their peak bloom, but look up at the top of aspen (Populus) or sweet birch (Betula lenta) trees right now and you will see the source of the cream and yellow "dust" on your cars. As you are looking up, it is a good place to find migrating birds early in the morning too.   And if you have Tulip Poplars (Liriodendron tulipfera) around, look up and see the greenish-yellow flowers forming.  Despite the name, these are not poplars, but in the Magnolia family.  Yes, common names are problematic.

Ooh – and I just heard the first of season “squeezy, squeezy, squeezy” of a Black and white Warbler!

Some bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis) flowers hiding amongst the Pachysandra

Assorted Narcissus sp.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I know we are in the throes of winter, but...

Believe it or not, for the last three years, during this upcoming week in February, the aconite started blooming in my garden!  This year, the poor plants are buried under a few feet of snow.

But there are a few signs of change that come  with the longer day length.  Last week, almost right on cue, I heard the first "Peter, Peter, Peter" of the Tufted Titmouse.  In addition, I heard a male cardinal doing its song "Purdy, Purdy, Purdy, chip".  Both sexes of the cardinal sing, but I actually saw this particular male at the top of a tree in our field singing away.  Given the cold weather and continual snow we have been having in eastern Pennsylvania, I am curious as to what cues make these two species think it is time to sing to the ladies?