USA National Phenology Network

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Courtesy USA National Phenology Network

The study of recurring plant and animal life cycle events is phenology. It is the calendar of nature. This includes when plants flower, when birds migrate and when crops mature. Phenology is relevant to interactions between organisms, seasonal timing and large-scale cycles of water and carbon. Phenology is important to us for many reasons. Farmers need to know when to plant and harvest crops and when to expect pests to emerge. Resource managers use it to monitor and predict drought and assess fire risk. Vacationers want to know when the best fall colors will be or when the wildflower blooms will peak. Timing varies but we can discern patterns.

The USA National Phenology Network monitors the influence of climate on the phenology of plants, animals and landscapes. They encourage people to observe phenological events such as flowering, migrations and egg laying. The Phenology Network provides a place to enter, store and share these observations, which are then compiled and analyzed nationwide. Participants range from individual observers in their own backyards to professional scientists monitoring long-term plots. My husband and I monitor leafing and flowering of lilacs, a key species in the program.

These observations support a wide range of decisions made routinely by citizens, managers, scientists and others. This includes decisions related to allergies, wildfires, pest control, and water management.

I urge you to participate. The National Phenology Network has many public, private and citizen partners. It is a great way to become involved in a nation-wide effort to better understand our environment. All this information and much more is available at the National Phenology website, to which there is a link from our Wild About Utah website.

This is Linda Kervin for Bridgerland Audubon Society.

Credits:

Text: Linda Kervin, Bridgerland Audubon Society
Additional Reading:

USA National Phenology Network, http://www.usanpn.org/

North American Bird Phenology Program, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, https://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bpp/BecomeAParticipant.cfm

May Swenson: A Utah poet and observer of nature

May Swenson, 1965 in Tucson
Copyright © L.H. Clark
Courtesy Utah State University Press

Hi, I’m Holly Strand from Stokes Nature Center in beautiful Logan Canyon.

In Logan Cemetery a granite bench marks the grave of May Swenson, a native Utahn and eminent poet. She was born in Logan in 1913 and attended Utah State University where she published her first poem. She moved east in 1936, and eventually, she became one of America’s most inventive and recognized poets, She won many awards including Guggenheim and Rockefeller grants, the Yale Bollingen Prize, and the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Utah State University conferred an honorary doctorate on Swenson in 1987. Despite her many achievements and her years living away from Utah, Swenson never forgot her Mormon heritage or her identity as a Westerner.

Nature played a prominent role in Swenson’s work. In fact, she published a collection of poetry called Nature: Poems Old and New which is brimming with imagery that evokes the beauty and complexity of the natural world.

Here’s an example: a poem called April Light read by Paul Crumbley, a professor of English at Utah State University who specializes in Swenson’s work.

April light

Lined with light
the twigs are stubby arrows.
A gilded trunk writhes
Upward from the roots,
from the pit of the black tentacles.
In the book of spring
a bare-limbed torso
is the first illustration.
Light teaches the tree
to beget leaves,
to embroider itself all over
with green reality,
until summer becomes
its steady portrait
and birds bring their lifetime
to the boughs.
Then even the corpse
light copies from below
may shimmer, dreaming it feels
the cheeks of blossom.

Another of Swenson’s poems describes a well-known natural feature in Utah.

Listen to this excerpt of Above Bear Lake:

A breeze, and the filtered light makes shine
A million bristling quills of spruce and fir
Downslope, where slashes of sky and lake
Hang blue—windows of intense stain. We take
The rim trail, crushing bloom of sage,
Sniffing resinous wind, our boots in the wild,
Small, everycolored Rocky Mountain flowers.
Suddenly, a steep drop-off: below we see the whole,
the whale of it—deep, enormous blue—
that widens, while the sky slants back to pale
behind a watercolored mountain.

Listening to this makes me feel like I’m standing on the scenic outlook at the summit of Logan Canyon. That is, of course, where Swenson wrote it.

For more on the Utah poet May Swenson, see our website www.wildaboututah.org
Thanks to Paul Crumbley and Maria Melendez of the English Dept. at Utah State University.
And thanks to the Rocky Mountain Power Foundation for supporting the research and development for today’s program.

For Wild About Utah and Stokes Nature Center, I’m Holly Strand.

Credits:

Readings: Paul Crumbley and Maria Melendez of the English Dept, Utah State University

Text: Stokes Nature Center: Holly Strand

Sources & Additional Reading

Knudson, R.R. and Suzzanne Bigelow. 1996. May Swenson: A Poet’s Life in Photos. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.

Swenson, May. 2000. Nature: Poems Old and New. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The Stokes Legacy

Randy Barker and Alice Stokes
at the Stokes Nature Center
Copyright 2007 Kim Barker

Hi, I’m Holly Strand from Stokes Nature Center in beautiful Logan Canyon.

Upon reading the biographies of Allen and Alice Stokes, I’ve started thinking about the word “community.” The Stokes were adopted Utahns. They moved here in 1952 so that Allen Stokes could take a teaching position at Utah State Agricultural College in the Dept. of Wildlife Management. They remained here until they died, Allen in 1996 and Alice just a couple of weeks ago at the age of 93. They both loved nature and took full advantage of their beautiful surroundings here in northern Utah. And they became deeply involved in the community in all senses of the word. As a result, the Nature Center where I work was named after them.

Alice and Allen met in 1944 . Alice was working for Dr. Aldo Leopold– the father of wildlife ecology– at the University of Wisconsin. Allen Stokes had taken a summer research job on nesting behavior and was helped along professionally by Dr. Leopold.

Perhaps it was partly due to Leopold’s influence that the Stokes were forever mindful of the natural community. Allen became a specialist in wildlife behavior within the context of natural communities. The Logan Herald Journal quoted Alice as saying : “ I believe that we should consider ourselves a part of the environment, the land, the communities of rivers, the animals, birds and the plants.”

The Stokes also had a strong sense of community in the social sense of the word. In Logan, Allen organized and led field trips for Bridgerland Audubon Society and eventually became a board member of the National Audubon Society. Utah State University presented Allen with the Bridger Award for Outstanding Contribution to Protecting and Appreciating the Environment of Logan and Cache Valley. They worked with the American Field Service to get Logan families to host foreign students. Alice helped establish classes for deaf children here in Cache Valley. She worked with a local organization, CAPSA, to build a Safe House for victims of Physical and Sexual Abuse. She helped expand the collection of the local library.

Alice Stokes
© 2007 Stokes Nature Center
www.logannature.org

They both participated in peace marches and rallies and vigils against the death penalty. Allen was a lifelong Quaker and Alice gradually converted. The couple helped establish a Quaker community in Logan in the 1970s which still meets today.

In 1996 the community who founded the nature center in Logan Canyon asked Allen and Alice for their name. Reluctantly, they gave permission, but Allen said “Only if you put Alice’s name first.” He died before the Center opened, and Alice switched the names so that his was first. Now, after 12 years, we remain the Allen and Alice Stokes Nature Center.

I never knew Allen, and I didn’t know Alice long enough. But through my work at the Center that bears their name I often come in contact with people that they influenced. It became obvious to me that the Stokes had a gift for inspiring people to do good things for both natural and social communities. Now, even though the Stokes are gone, that legacy endures. And what could be a better legacy than to instill concern for your community?

For Wild About Utah and Stokes Nature Center, I’m Holly Strand.

Credits:

Photos: Courtesy & © 2007 Kim Barker and Stokes Nature Center

Text: Stokes Nature Center: Holly Strand

Sources & Additional Reading

Allen & Alice Stokes Nature Center, www.logannature.org

Bridgerland Audubon Society, www.bridgerlandaudubon.org

Alice Stokes’ Obituary, The Herald Journal,
http://www.legacy.com/HJNews/Obituaries.asp?Page=Lifestory&PersonId=125306673

A memorial service for Alice Stokes will be held at the Sunburst Lounge of the Taggart
Student Center, Utah State University, on Saturday, May 9, at 3 p.m. A
reception will immediately follow at the College of Natural Resources,USU.

The Logan Christmas Bird Count

The Logan Christmas Bird Count: A Mountain Chickadee One of 103 bird species found in the 2007 Bridgerland Audubon Christmas Bird Count Photo Courtesy Bridgerlandaudubon.org
A Mountain Chickadee
One of 103 bird species found in the 2007
Bridgerland Audubon Christmas Bird Count
Photo Courtesy Bridgerlandaudubon.org

The Christmas holidays bring us a bevy of welcome annual traditions. Even now I can smell the cookies, hear familiar caroles and see the decorated tree. I hear the western screech owl too, for I also join in the Logan Christmas Bird Count. These are exhaustive one day surveys of all the individuals of every species of bird that can be found in a locality. Christmas Bird Counts began 109 years ago in New York City as a holiday alternative to the excesses of the so-called “side hunt”. From that first inspiration, the Christmas Bird Count has spread to all 50 states, Canada, Mexico and beyond. Last year, most of the 2100 counts were in the US, totting up 57 million individual birds representing nearly 2000 species. Here in Utah, we reported 180 bird species. Provo holds honors as Utah’s first Christmas bird count, held in 1903. Today, hundreds of Utahns participate in 20 local counts, from Saint George north to Bear Lake.

 

I always join Bridgerland Audubon’s count in Logan, which has been running for 52 years. Last year, we finally topped 100 bird species in our allotted count circle of 150 square miles, the effort of 61 birders. That’s remarkable for a chilly winter’s day, considering that many of our feathered friends, such as hummingbirds, flycatchers and more have hightailed it south for the winter, but note that some northerly species, such as roughlegged hawks, view Utah as the balmy endpoint of their fall migration.

Christmas Bird Counts offer something for everyone, from novices to seasoned birders, and from simple feeder counts to backcountry walkabouts. I’ll be up in the predawn, listening for owls. Every count’s data contributes to long-term research about winter dispersal patterns of birds, their population trends, and impacts of troubles like West Nile virus, which is especially hard on crows, magpies and jays. If you like birds, join in the fun and make the Christmas Bird Count one of your holiday traditions.

All counts are scheduled between December 14 and January 5. Utah’s Christmas Bird counts are listed on our website: just search for Wild About Utah. Our Logan count is on Saturday, December 20. That evening, we’ll flock together for a big potluck and count compilation party.

Credits:

Photo: Courtesy BridgerlandAudubon.org www.bridgerlandaudubon.org

Text: Bridgerland Audubon Society – Jim Cane

Additional Reading:

Christmas Bird Counts in Utah, Utahbirds.org, Milt Moody, Webmaster, http://www.utahbirds.org/cbc/cbc.html

The 109th Christmas Bird Count: Citizen Science in Action, National Audubon Society, Inc. http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/index.html

Idaho Circles: http://app.audubon.org/cbcapp/findCircles.jsp?state=US-ID&start=1

Utah Circles: http://app.audubon.org/cbcapp/findCircles.jsp?state=US-UT&start=1