Backyard Almanac

Barbara Friedman/Flickr

Just when you think you've had it with the gray, sleety weather, Larry Weber reminds us of crocuses and vernal ponds.

©Lisa Johnson

We're seeing the "effect" in "lake effect" this week ... but late season snows make it tough on birds and animals, returning migrants and winter-long residents.

Fyn Kynd Photography [via Flickr]

Larry Weber talks about the return of the cold temperatures - not really as unseasonable as people may think - as well as the return of many migrating birds, and other signs that, regardless of the cold snap, spring will be here soon.

"It's the 'Arctic Riviera,'" says the executive director of Friends of Sax-Zim Bog. "There's a new cast of characters every winter."

Sparky Stensaas subs for Larry Weber this morning, and talks boreal chickadees ("they sound like regular chickadees with a cold"), some upcoming programs that will extend past the Visitor Center's regular season, and why an apparent absence of owls is a good thing.

This week:

  • the snowstorm that wasn't
  • some early migrants to look for
  • one month before the vernal equinox and
  • only two weeks to Daylight Savings Time!

Len Blumin/Flickr

Larry says the weekend's predicted mild temperatures are perfect for seeing melty "tree circles" around deciduous trees, bright red red osier dogwood, pussy willow and quaking aspen buds and maybe even a horned lark.

Meanwhile ... the maple sap is flowing!

Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren/Flickr

Larry Weber navigated the windy conditions this morning and talks spectacular sunsets, a lunar eclipse and the new finch who showed up at his feeder this week: the white-winged crossbill. 

stuart anthony/Flickr

Way back in 1996, Minnesota recorded the coldest temperature ever when Tower hit -60 on February 2.

Duluth checked in with a half-hearted -30 that day, but Larry Weber reminds us that five days later, we hit 45 degrees.

Oh, and if you're hoping for snow days this month, chances are you're out of luck.

Códice Tuna Colectivo de Arte/Flickr

Perhaps Janus is indeed looking to the future and the past.

And then again, maybe he's looking at the below-normal first half of the month (average temperature 4 degrees) and the above normal second half of the month (average temperature 30 degrees).

Fyn Kynd Photography/Flickr

The January thaw Larry Weber predicted has come to pass, with record-breaking warm temperatures (45 degrees yesterday), northern shrikes and the winter crane fly.

Sunrises are coming earlier (around 7:50am), sunsets are coming later (around 4:45pm) and while it's too soon to be looking for spring, naturalist Larry Weber says next week's January thaw is really going to shake things up.

Pat Matthews, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife [via Flickr]

Larry gives his phenological year-end summary.  Temperatures for the past year have been warmer than normal for every month but one. Icy snow over the last week caused difficulties for human travelers, but also for many animals living in the snow, such as the ruffed grouse and the deer.  

This week on Backyard Almanac, Larry Weber details the dramatic highs and lows from this past week with a nearly 50 degree swing.  He shares the surprising fact that snow fall so far this year is average and answers a listener question about why the trees didn't drop all their leaves in fall. Listen for details about who is moving about over the snow and of course details about the Annual Christmas bird count.

"Christmas in the Trenches, 1914," EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com

Larry Weber says, by his reckoning, winter officially started this week.

For one thing, the rivers froze.

For another, it was -17 yesterday morning.

And of course, it was time for his favorite holiday tune.  (You can hear it after Larry's piece below)

You can read more about Christmas in the Trenches here:

You can see a music video about the event, backed with John McCutcheon's song here:

December started off warmer than normal and a week ago, our snow was all gone.

Fast forward to today, and the snow is back plus we have temperatures below zero in the forecast for the first time this season.

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