As another year comes to a close we find opportunities to reflect and be thankful for what we were able to learn and experience. Some of you may have recorded observations of plants and animals for many years, and for others, this year may have been your first.

Wherever your journey may have taken you, we appreciate your time and efforts, and are grateful for our community of observers. We have learned so much about the seasonal changes of plants and animals across the country and we could not have done so without your care and dedication to this project. As we go into the new year, we would love to hear the story of your Nature's Notebook journey! If you would like to share your story with the USA-NPN and other members of the community, feel free to send us an email at info@usanpn.org.

We thank you again for observing the seasonal changes of plants and animals with Nature's Notebook. We look forward to what the new year will bring with new campaigns, species to observe, engagement opportunities, and ways to explore the data you collect.

Best wishes for the New Year,

Special Feature: Winter bird observations

Observing birds can be a rewarding experience

It's not too late to participate in Audubon's 123rd annual Christmas Bird Count, which runs from December 14th, 2022-January 5th 2023. The long-term data that has been collected through these counts helps conservation biologists and wildlife agencies asses the health of bird populations and their habitats.

Recording plant phenology can also help native bird species. Flowering plants can provide a food source for many bird species by attracting insects, and many winter birds rely on ripe fruits and seeds. You can even record the phenology of several bird species using Nature's Notebook. If you are new to observing birds, start small! Identify one or two species that you see often in your yard and learn about their phenology and behaviors. If you would like additional guidance for observing birds in your area, feel free to email me at samantha@usanpn.org I would love to help you get started.

If you supplement the diet of wild birds using feeders, there are steps that you can take to keep your birds healthy and safe. It is important to clean and sanitize seed feeders every 2 weeks, and hummingbird feeders every 2-5 days. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handing your feeders, and rake any debris that falls below them. Project FeederWatch has an excellent guide for maintaining a safe feeding environment for your birds and family members.

Learn more »

Photo: USFWS Midwest Region

What your data are telling us

Leaves are springing up earlier along the Appalachian Trail

Researchers are using satellite data alongside temperature, weather, and phenology data collected by Nature's Notebook observers to examine how climate change is affecting the Appalachian Trail. Satellite data indicate that spring is arriving 6-18 days earlier than in previous decades. Weather and phenology observations help paint a clearer picture of the status and trends of the ecosystems in that area.

Learn more »

Photo: Chris Devers

Botanical gardens are "hot spots" for butterflies in arid environments

Observations collected by citizen scientists revealed that botanical gardens in the southwest have higher diversity and abundance of butterflies than surrounding city areas. This study exemplifies how botanical gardens and other natural areas in urban landscapes allow community members to connect with nature and participate in scientific and conservation efforts.

Learn More »

Photo: Matt Tillett

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

Visit the Nature's Notebook Store!

Gear up for your observations with USA-NPN and Nature's Notebook merchandise! T-shirts, mugs, and hoodies featuring the USA-NPN and Nature's Notebook logos are now available to order. Enter the code NARRATIVE for 15% off your purchase.

Visit the USA-NPN store»

Time for an end of year data check!
The end of the year is a great time to check your data to make sure you have entered everything correctly. If you use the Nature's Notebook app, check out the Review tab and make sure that you see a green bar at the top that says "User data are up to date." If you collect data on paper datasheets, now is a great time to get everything entered online.

You can also use our visualization tools to look over your data and make sure that nothing stands out as an obvious error:
  • Check out the My Phenology Calendar tab at the top of your Observation Deck. You can customize your calendar to show other species and phenophases.
  • Follow the link on the bottom right of your Observation Deck to Visualize My Data.

Need to fix something? Watch this video on how to edit your data.

Recent happenings in the field of phenology

Climate change affects bird nesting phenology

Researchers assessed changes in nesting dates of 72 bird species in the Upper Midwest of the United States by comparing contemporary egg laying dates with those obtained from archived, historical museum nest records over a 143-year period. The bird species evaluated in this study began laying eggs about 10 days earlier over this period of time. This study highlights the importance of data gathering and archiving through time to understand phenological change.

Read the abstract »

Nature's Notebook Nuggets
What should I record in winter?
In northern states, most plants will not need weekly observations in the middle of winter. However, if your species retains ripe fruit in the winter, you should still report on fruiting phenophases. In southern states, many species may have active flower buds or open flowers that will require normal weekly observations. Get familiar with the seasonal progression of phenophases for your species to predict what’s coming! 

More ways to get involved

Online training for The RedBud Phenology Project

Eastern redbuds are iconic spring bloomers, but mystery remains about the timing of their flowering and fruiting.

Want to find out what's involved? Join us January 5th at 11:00 am AZ time for a free virtual info session and training - we will explain the significance of this project, share results from 2022, walk you through the steps of creating a Nature's Notebook account and registering a redbud tree, and describe how to make observations and submit them online.

Register now »


Samantha Brewer

Volunteer Engagement Coordinator



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