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PHENOLOGY or Should I Say FUNology

Spring is that wonderful time of year when all types of new life are emerging. Beautiful birds, buzzing bugs, blooming blossoms, and many other interesting organisms are now flowing throughout the campus of Sierra Outdoor School.

Though it is very noticeable during these post-winter months, changes and "new life" appearances are happening year-round! The study of the timing of nature's cycles is called phenology. This can include life cycles, climate, weather, migration patterns, breeding, and flowering.

Let's check out some of the phenological happenings from around SOS:

We've all heard that April showers bring May flowers. The pictures below show our well known plant "bear clover" (aka mountain misery), which recently blossomed beautiful white flowers. This is the perfect time to see different parts of the flower's life cycle, from buds to blooms!

The new blooms have also been attracting many pollinators such as bees...

and butterflies! Which appear based on both interesting migration patterns and life cycles! PHENOLOGY!

Butterflies will often arrive based on a migration route like many birds. The destinations depend on where the best places are to breed, feed, or lay eggs at a given time of year. Below is an example of the migration route taken by monarch butterflies.

Life cycles are another factor for many insect appearances. Depending on the season you may see bugs in their stages as a pupa, larva or adult. Below are some examples of what these stages may look like.

The spring showers have also caused some cool fungi appearances!!! Turkey tail is the most commonly seen around camp, usually on fallen black oak tree branches.

Speaking of black oak trees, within the past few months, they have gone from bare to a stunning green with all of the bright new leaves!

The white leaf manzanita tree is not deciduous like the black oaks so they do not lose their leaves during the winter.  The most noticeable changes happen with the appearance of their "tiny apples" (as the name implies in Spanish).  They go through winter months without berries and in early spring they grow small pink flowers. 

Now the flowers have gone away and are growing into sweet, apple-like berries that will be red and ripe by mid-summer.

Now get off of the Internet and go be a backyard phenologist!  There are so many ways to experience the changing beauty right where you live!!!!

You can write, sketch, or just observe and ENJOY the changing world around you!
-Smell some flowers!
-Check out the migrating birds that pass through each season.
-Look for bugs!
-Keep notes on all of the new changes each week.
-Sketch a deciduous tree now and re-sketch it in 6 months!
-What changes are happening in your own backyard?
-Are there new blooms around your neighborhood?
-Find different stages of a plant life cycles in your garden or a community park!
-Take pictures of spring, summer, winter, and autumn changes!!!!
-BREATHE in that fresh air *cough* *cough* oh yeah, allergy season... because of PHENOLOGY!


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