Here’s how far ahead spring came to California, compared to the rest of the U.S.
According to the National Phenology Network, which monitors changes of the seasons, spring is one to two weeks early in parts of the Southeast and California and two to three weeks late in parts of Washington and Oregon and the southern Great Plains.
Many bird and insect migrations are based on seasonal change. The millions of painted lady butterflies that recently flew across California are linked to rains and wildflower blooms that swelled their numbers. Earlier flowering means earlier allergies for people as well.
Phenology is helping farmers decide when to plant, fertilize and use pesticides. Want to help? You can learn more and report when plants are changing in your area at usanpn.org/home.
With the official first day of spring just past, we’re going to talk about the birds and the bees, but only from a migratory standpoint.
Journey North (journeynorth.org) is one of the largest citizen science programs in North America. The community logs more than 50,000 sightings per year, mostly of birds such as bald eagles, swallows, hummingbirds and robins. Journey North also seeks data on creatures great and small, such as the gray whale and earthworms.
The National Audubon Society has 500 local chapters nationwide. They offer educational meetings to share information about local birds and their migratory patterns. Find a local chapter at audubon.org.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has an eBird database (ebird.org) of sightings and migration patterns that citizens can contribute to and explore online.
There are more than 20,000 known bee species worldwide. North America is home to around 3,600 species of bees and 47 species of bumblebees.
More than a third of crops around the world are pollinated by bees. Several types of North American bumblebees are in decline.
You can input information and photos of bees you have seen and learn more about bumblebees in your area at these sites: bumblebeewatch.org, greatsunflower.org.
The Xerces Society, a conservation organization that focuses on invertebrates, is reaching out to citizen scientists to help support what it calls the imperiled western monarchs.
The 2018 survey of the large orange and black butterflies that migrate each year showed a 99.4 percent decline in their numbers since 1980. For every 160 monarchs in the 1980s, there was one in 2018.
The Xerces Society is asking people to report monarchs and milkweed, the plant they need to survive, so it can map and manage habitat. Go to monarchmilkweedmapper.org.
The map below shows the habitat and monarchs tracked in 2018 on the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper.
Sources: The Nature Conservancy, National Geographic, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Pacific Marine Mammal Center Photos by staff and Wikimedia Commons