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Observations by Gary Fewless for Green Bay WI (Lat.N 44.51° Long. W 88.02° ), except as noted. For flowers lacking conspicuous petals or sepals I define "anthesis" as release of pollen by mature anthers.

February 2002

Observations by Gary Fewless, except as noted

Date Observation (Click on links for photos)
Feb28 Only a trace of snow today. The total snowfall for February 2002 was 8.5 inches.

A large mass of cold northern air has moved deep into the continental U.S., bringing a period of slightly below seasonal temperatures to Wisconsin. Green Bay has received only about 0.07 inches of snow in the last week, so the snow cover is minimal with mostly bare ground in the open.

WI DNR reports good skiing and snowmobiling in extreme northern WI (except in the northeast) following heavy snowfall last week and weekend. Douglas and Bayfield counties report 20 and 18 inches of snow on the ground, respectively with lesser amounts ranging to the east. Most of the rest of the state still has little snow with 0-3 inches south of a line from southern Oconto County to Polk County, and winter sports have been difficult at best. Still more reports of snowmobilers, and ice shanties falling through thin ice in southern WI.

Many reports of returning Canada Geese and many other birds. WI DNR reports that this is the normal season for black bear cubs to be born, and that skunks are very active and in their breeding season now.


Warm temperatures over the weekend continued the melting of snow and ice in the Green Bay Area. The high temperatures have been at or above 32 F for the last 7 days. A winter storm passed to our north last night, missing Green Bay but delivering up to 5+ inches of snow to some areas in the north after midnight. The snow is gone over about 80% of the open areas on UWGB, although still present where it was drifted or plowed into banks, and in shaded sites. Cold air will arrive from the northwest cooling us down into the single digits by Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ice is dark and soft with a little open water at the Baird Street bridge on the East River in Green Bay . The same is true of UWGB's Prairie Pond where there is a little open water at the east end and the ice is too soft and thin to hold a person.

A flock of about 150 Starlings, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds (about 75% are Starlings) at my backyard feeders this morning in Allouez--the first sizeable flocks of these returning migrants that I have seen there.

Feb24 A mild day across Wisconsin during daylight hours with highs in the north near the freezing point, high of 41 F at Green Bay and a record for the date of 61 F at Madison. A winter storm is predicted for tonight in the north.
Feb23 Sandhill Cranes and Killdeer, Dane County; Greater White-fronted Geese, Columbia County; Northern Cardinal - multiple males singing in Rhinelander (Andy Paulios)

Reports of pairs of Canada Geese scouting out the west shore of Green Bay (Tom Erdman).

Another report of a Turkey Vulture in Wisconsin (Wisbirdnet).

Feb21 Precipitation began as rain yesterday afternoon and gradually changed to sleet and then wet snow. Green Bay received 2.1 inches of snow yesterday and perhaps a little more after midnight. The wet snow accumulated on trees and shrubs in the area, including these Staghorn Sumacs.
Feb20 Some partially or completely ice-free small lakes in Janesville area (Andy Paulios).

The high temperature in Green Bay has been at or above 32 F for 13 of the last 14 days. The warm temperatures plus rain yesterday and today have melted most of our snow. The forecast predicts some snow (up to 2-3 inches) for tomorrow.

A report of 7 Sandhill Cranes in Marquette Co, yesterday (wisbirdnet).

Feb18 Red-winged Blackbirds on territory and migrating through Madison; Robin singing two days in a row in backyard on phone wire (Andy Paulios).
Feb15 Foxes and Coyotes breeding in northern WI; Barred Owls calling (WI DNR). Lack of snow is the primary reason that snowmobiling is reported as generally poor over most of WI. Marinette County says there is not enough snow to snowmobile, except on lakes, many of which are covered by slush, however. Peninsula Park in Door County reports its sledding hill is closed. Ice on many souther WI lakes is unsafe, and Lake Mendota in Dane County has apparently not frozen over completely all winter. Cross country skiing trails are generally in poor condition due to heavy use and no new snow. Many downhill ski areas have been making snow and report good to excellent conditions.

I'm not predicting that spring is here, but here are a few more bird observations that give us cause to hope. A Turkey Vulture was observed in Door County last weekend (Pete Wolter). Two male RWBB defending territories in a marsh in Waukesha Co.(wisbirdnet, 2/12). A flock of 200-300 starlings with a few Red-winged Blackbirds and Cowbirds mixed in, in northern Illinois (wisbirdnet, 2/12). WI DNR reports some tom turkeys have begun to "strut".

A snow cover map of WI for yesterday shows most of the state with 4 inches or less and much of southern WI with 1-2 inches (with up to 4-5 inches in an area from Dane to Fond du lac and north to Winnebago). The southern tier of counties and north along Lake Michigan to Milwaukee had 0 snow cover.

Feb12 There have been several reports of bird behavior in southern Wisconsin in the last few days that suggest the early stages of spring: Tree Sparrows singing and "dueling" in the air, Pine Siskins and Cardinals singing, Janesville and Madison, (Andy Paulios); Mourning Dove doing its courtship dive, Janesville; Sandhill Cranes calling, Racine County; (wisbirdnet).
Feb10 The 4-6 inch snowstorm predicted for last night and this morning, delivered only 1.0 inch of snow in Green Bay. The high temperature reached 34 F. In spite of the "storm", the high temperatures have been above freezing for the last 5 days.
Feb09 A Killdeer reported in Madison (wisbirdnet). Perhaps a bit optimistic on the bird's part, but I can't help but think of spring. The snow has receded dramatically, exposing open ground in places, but a storm is predicted for tonight.

After 2 days of sunny, warm weather (high temperature of 42 F yesterday) the snow cover has significantly decreased. The National Weather Service in Green Bay reported a snow depth of 8 inches on Feb 1 and only 5 inches yesterday.

Numerous Horned Larks noted in Winnebago County (wisbirdnet). They are notoriously early to return in spring--overwintering not far to the south.

Red Foxes reported very active near Green Bay in recent days. This is approximately their breeding season.


Check the following link for a good example of "lake effect" snow storms in the Great Lakes area. This is of interest to us for a number of reasons. People "down wind" of the lakes tend to get more snow because the air gathers moisture from the lakes as it passes over and then drops it on the far side. That is why people on the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan and Buffalo, New York, for example, get such high snowfall amounts. It is also relevant to our Great Lakes water levels. Some of the water rising from the lakes can fall again as snow within the drainage basin. This lake effect snow may give the impression that we can expect increased water levels in the lakes, but it does not really constitute an input for the lakes, rather it is essentially recycling of water within the system.


There are reports of Ravens calling and preparing nests in Door County.

Reports of large flocks of Blackbirds as far north as central Illinois (wisbirdnet). They typically move northward with the retreating snow cover.


There have been several reports of singing Cardinals in the last week or so. If not a clear phenological event, it is at least a sign of hope that spring is not too far off. On average, the winter snow cover is largely gone in the Green Bay area by the end of the first week in March, only 3-4 weeks away. That is the time that we get the first big influx of returning migrant birds, such as Red-winged Blackbirds, etc. Of course we often get more snowfall after that time, but it is generally of short duration.

Up to about 10 inches of snow fell last week in Wisconsin, but that has settled considerably and there was little to no "base" beneath it. Winter sports have been greatly enhanced, but the snow is quickly compacted to an inch or two under heavy use and warm midday temperatures yesterday and today are contributing to a decreasing snowcover. Snowmobile trails in particular have been reported in poor condition if they were heavily used last weekend.

In spite of some cold weather, lake ice cannot be assumed to be safe, especially in southern WI. WI DNR reports open water on Lake Mendota in Madison and 4 snowmobilers were reported to have fallen through the ice on Lake Wisconsin in Columbia County and several more on Shawano Lake. Green Bay remains largely open also.

Feb02 The Double-crested Cormorant was still present at the mouth of the Fox River today (from Wisbirdnet). It has apparently been here all winter.


The biggest snowstorm so far this winter dumped about 8 inches of snow on Green Bay, beginning yesterday and continuing all night. By morning the skies were clear.

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Last updated on May 20, 2015