Tips & Tricks of a Phenologist

Phenomenal Phenology

Keeping track of natural events isn’t difficult. A few simple tools of the trade (See “Tools of the Trade” ) and everyday activities will get you started in this absorbing hobby.

  • Take nature walks.
  • Make observations right in your own back yard. If you don’t have to plan trips to distant locations, you’re more likely not to miss backyard events.
  • Bird feeders or bird baths encourage migrating birds to stop at your yard.
  • Perennial plants are best for phenological observations because they remain in place for many seasons.
  • Watch the same individual plant every year at the same site.
  • Keep accurate and frequent records in a nature notebook. Or carry a blank calendar with space for each date so you can make short notes when you see something interesting.
  • Use your senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. Listen for sounds of birds, frogs and toads.
  • Pay attention to the lengthening or shortening of daylight hours.
  • Use a compact tape recorder to make observations.
  • Start with something simple such as which wildflowers are blooming and which birds you see. Keep your eye on it every day.
  • Spend time getting to know the common species of your area.
  • Call a local conservation organization to find out about resources: nature walks, bird counts and other activities.