F is for Firsts; Firsts are For Phenology


Photo credit: Oregon Ridge Nature Center Naturalist Rachel Felling

Skunk Cabbage. Photo credit: Oregon Ridge Nature Center Naturalist Rachel Felling

February – the month where we start noticing our first signs of spring at Oregon Ridge Park: skunk cabbage blooming; maple tree tapping; and tree buds swelling in preparation of blooming later in spring.

Possibly you have your own “firsts” that you notice every year: buds forming in the native garden, a robin hopping across the meadow, and later, the croaking of frogs in the pond or the sight of a salamander whisking under a log. One of my personal “firsts” of spring is the first evening I make it home from work while there is still some light in the sky. We notice these signs of nature year after year, occurring like clockwork.

But do they occur on the same date each year? Tracking the dates of these “firsts” is important for studying changes in the environment, including the impact of climate change. A branch of ecology, called phenology, studies the cycles of plant and animal life by tracking the “first” occurrence of an event.

Phenology depends on regular folks like us, too — not just scientists — to notice and record the dates of “firsts”. If you’re interested in more structured observations about your springtime “firsts”, you can participate in these citizen science projects:

 What “first” do you look for every year?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s