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Hi {First Name},

My name is Samantha Brewer and I am the new Volunteer Engagement Coordinator for the USA-NPN and I am thrilled to be corresponding with you! As spring starts to take hold across the country, we are so grateful to those of you who have rallied from the myriad challenges of the past few years to continue tracking phenology of plants and animals. Already this year, 1,900 of you have contributed data to the National Phenology Database, which is nearing 30 million records thank you for your efforts!

This year, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their latest report on the global impacts of climate change. . The UN Environment Programme also highlights phenological shifts due to climate change in this years Frontiers report. Phenology was a key subject in these reports, which exemplifies how the data that you collect is critical to understanding impacts of climate change. We appreciate the work that you do to help further the USA-NPN mission of supporting science and management, communicating and connecting, and growing a more equitable and inclusive network. We could not accomplish so much without your observations and dedication to this effort.

With gratitude,

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What your data are telling us

The new (climate) normal

Climate normals are 30-year averages of weather variables like temperature and provide a baseline we can use for comparing our current climate. The NOAA recently updated the climate normal to reflect the 1991-2020 normal period. These updates occur every 10 years, and even with the last normal period of 1981-2010, we can compare your data between these two normal periods and see that spring is occurring earlier than usual. 

Learn more»

Spring Blooms and Allergies

As spring gets underway and we go outside to observe, many of us also need to manage our seasonal allergies. Studying phenology is vital for understanding patterns of pollen dispersal and finding ways to help people who suffer from these allergies. In the Across the Sky podcast, hosted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, USA-NPN Director Theresa Crimmins discusses phenology, allergies, and how your data helps us better understand seasonal allergy patterns.

Listen to the podcast »

Photo: Dennis Jarvis via Flicker CC BY-SA 2.0

What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN

2021 Highlights from the Network

2021 was a challenging year, but we also accomplished so much together! Our 2021 Annual Report highlights four examples of how we worked with our partners and observers like you to advance science, inform decisions, communicate and connect, and create an equitable and inclusive network.

Read the Annual Report »

Partnering with Monarch Joint Venture

We are delighted to announce that the USA-NPN is now an official partner of Monarch Joint Venture. Monarch Joint Venture is an outstanding organization that works with a network of partners with the aim to protect monarchs and their migration. Your observations of Nectar Connector plants helps to support this mission. If you are observing monarchs and milkweeds, Monarch Joint Venture has additional resources for reporting monarchs and information on how to create monarch habitats.

Learn more »

New Species to Observe

This year, we added many new plant species and two insects to Nature’s Notebook, including leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.) and mason bees (Osmia spp.) at the genus level. There are now 1,650 total species for you to chose from!

We have also revised the “Breaking leaf buds”, "Young leaves" and "Leaves" phenophase definitions to avoid confusion about when a leaf is considered "unfolded". 

See what's new this year »

Leafcutter bee, Credit: Marcello Consolo via

Recent happenings in the field of phenology

Phenology of Shoots and Roots 

Phenological mismatches can occur when the timing of life cycle events of one species shifts disproportionately to interacting species, which in turn can affect other species that rely on it for survival. Recently, a group of international scientists found that there are phenological mismatches of the shoots and roots of individual plants, and that these mismatches differ between woody and non-woody plants. More data will be needed to learn more about how root and shoot mismatches can affect terrestrial ecosystems.

Learn more »

Photo: Gordon Robertson via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Nature's Notebook Nuggets

The value of "No."

Spring is such an exciting time of year. Plants are ending their dormant stages and new leaves and blooms are emerging, birds are singing and building nests, and pollinators are searching for nectar sources. Recording when buds burst is important in understanding the phenology of these species. Be sure that you collect those "no" records prior to the start of flowering and leaf-out, which helps data users have a more precise estimate of when the phenophase started. 

Learn more »

breaking leaf buds in white ash

Photo: Ellen G Denny

More ways to get involved

World Migratory Bird Day May 14th

World Migratory Bird Day is May 14th this year. If you haven't recorded bird observations at your site yet, now would be a great time to start! Common birds across the United States that observers have recorded include the American Robin, Black-capped Chickadee, and Northern Cardinal. You can pick animal species to add to your site from our species list, or participate in a World Migratory Bird Day event near you!

Learn more »

I Begin With Spring: The Life and Seasons of Henry David Thoreau 

Written by Julie Dunlap and beautiful Illustrated by Megan Elizabeth Baratta, this book geared towards middle schoolers highlights not only the changes in nature that we can see around us, but also considers the social changes occurring during the life of Henry David Thoreau. 

Learn more »


Samantha Brewer

Volunteer Engagement Coordinator


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