Did you know that the timing of that first ladybug crawling up your arm or spotting your first purple flower, a crocus among the grasses, or geese returning on their migration is a kind of observational phenology? Phenology, in a nutshell, is the study of the timing of seasonal plant and animal changes. I’ve been wanting to nerd out on this topic for a while and now realize we are all natural phenologists…except most of us probably haven’t heard this word before nor do we write down and compare seasonally when we spotted these changes…as some scientists do to collect information on climate (again in a nutshell).
But it’s cool that without naming it, it is something we all do…and started doing at a very young age. To think that observing seasonal change, something important now for farmers, gardeners or in planning your next BBQ, is also something our ancestors did as an important part of their survival as nomads, pastoralists and farmers.
So this spring when you spot the return of a robin on your lawn or the first unfolding of a leaf in your yard, you are engaging in an old tradition that you began as a child. One that inevitably connects us to our past, present and our future.
Phenology = Coolology.
Interested in more phenology for your family?
Join Urban Wild on Facebook at Urban Wild Family Nature Club for some local spring 2020 phenology=coolology posts. You can also learn more and participate in phenology as a citizen scientist with Nature Watch Canada and Plant Watch Alberta.