Oct 16 2008
Phenology: The study of biological activity patterns through the seasons … or … (my definition) a list of what nature is doing at a particular time of year.
Chuck Tague, who supplies me with beautiful pictures like this one, used to write a newsletter called The Nature Observer News. The other day I was reminiscing about the list of “What to Look For” that he published every other week. With Chuck’s list, I’d be fired up and eager to go outdoors to find the birds and plants he told me about.
Last week I asked Chuck if he’d consider sending me an abbreviated phenology for southwestern Pennsylvania so I could put it in the BirdBlog every month. Happily, he was thinking of reviving it on his own and said I could piggyback.
Chuck just launched his complete list for late October on his new blog, The Nature Observer’s Journal. I’ll do a tease once or twice a month. This is the first - a hint of the treasures Chuck promises in southwestern Pennsylvania in late October:
- Fall colors reach their peak, especially red and sugar maples.
- First frost around October 20. First hard frost around Halloween.
- It’s hunting season! Wear blaze orange and be aware of PA’s hunting seasons. Remember: Though Sunday is generally safer, some game can be hunted on Sundays.
- The first wave of ducks and geese migrate through our area.
- Hawk watches see lots of sharp-shinned and red-tailed hawks.
- Golden eagle migration peaks at the Allegheny Front in the third week of October.
- White-throated sparrows, dark-eyed juncos and American tree sparrows arrive to stay through the winter.
- Big flocks begin to form at dusk and dawn: grackles, robins, starlings and (my favorite) crows.
- Pitt’s peregrines stay active on migration days as food (small birds) and threats (other hawks) fly by.
- Most flowers have gone to seed but watch for blooming witch hazel, closed gentian, hardy goldenrods and asters.
- New moon on October 28. No moonlight on Halloween.
- By October 31 in Pittsburgh, sunrise will be at 7:52am, sunset at 6:13pm.
- We’ll change the clocks back to Standard Time on November 2. Then sunrise will be at 6:55am, sunset at 5:11pm. Evening rush hour in the dark!
For Chuck’s complete phenology for late October, click here.
(photo of Flowering Dogwood by Chuck Tague)