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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.

March 2004

Observations by Gary Fewless, except as noted

arboretum pond.

An ongoing series of phenological notes, primarily from northern Wisconsin (observations by Gary Fewless unless otherwise noted)


Date Observation (Click on links for photos)
Mar 30

There were 6 or 7 Common Eiders on the Channel in Shawano; Shawano Lake has a large amount of ice cover yet (Joel Whitehouse).

Corylus cornuta (beaked hazelnut) in flower (anthesis), City of Green Bay, in lawn.

Mar 29

First Alnus rugosa (speckled alder) in flower (anthesis), Brown County, Town of Suamico.

Spring Peepers singing in Shawano, Bluebird in Menomiee (reservation) (Joel Whitehouse).

Big flocks of Tundra Swans on Green Bay [smaller numbers have been in the area since at least the 23rd, gf]; Wilson's Snipe, Pensaukee, Oconto Co (Tom Erdman).

Mar 28

First open crocus flower, not immediately adjacent to a building but in a protected site. Tulips and daffodils emerged in open, unprotected sites; Eastern chipmunk active today, Town of Cooperstown, Manitowoc County (Joel Trick).

Spring peepers and wood frogs were seen migrating across roads and calling from wetlands during last night's rain near the Brown Co. Reforestation Camp. Leopard frogs also seen migrating across roads (West Shore and Lily Lake area). One American Toad seen dead on road (Pine Grove Road), Brown Co Reforestation Camp, Green Bay West Shore (Barkhausen and Sensiba), Lily Lake Area (Pine Grove Road/Phillips Road/ Allen Road) (Steve Price).

Mar 27

First spring peepers heard this evening, Town of Cooperstown, Manitowoc County (Joel Trick).

Fox Sparrow, Eastern Phoebe, Belted Kingfisher, Pensaukee, Oconto Co (Tom Erdman).

Several dead Opossum on local highways, Brown County.

Mar 26

The ice is now off Prairie Pond on UWGB's Cofrin Arboretum. Last year this event happened March 16. The average is March 27, for 8 years of data.

There are a few earthworms up (i.e. there are fresh "castings") this morning at UWGB, , along sidewalks, but not elsewhere. The date for this event was April 1 last year. Seedlings of Polygonum achoreum (knotweed) have begun to grow in cracks of sidewalks and curbs, City of Green Bay.

Local Bluebirds now back, first Wood Ducks on our woods pond, Town of Cooperstown, Manitowoc County (Joel Trick).

First earthworms seen on pavement this morning, City of Green Bay (Joel Trick)

Mar 25

First day of flower for Acer saccharinum (silver maple) in Green Bay. This is the earliest flowering individual of this species I am aware of in Green Bay. It began to flower on exactly the same date last year, and that is the average date over the last 19 years, but the date of first flower for this tree has ranged from March 6 to April 5 (30 days) over that time.

Tree swallows return to UWGB campus; "yellow jackets" (wasps) out and about (Tom Erdman).

Tree Swallows also in Outagamie County, Shiocton area, (Kathy Groves).

Woodcock "peenting": UWGB (Steve Price); Brown County, Ledgeview (Kathy Groves)

Mar 24

Song sparrows singing on the UWGB campus (Steve Price).

First day for Water Striders on Mahon Creek, UWGB. The average date over the last 12 years has been March 27, the earliest March 7 and the latest April 11( a range of 35 days).

Another sign that some of the spring processes are underway can be seen in the increasing brightness of the red pigments in Cornus stolonifera (red-osier dogwood). The bark of these common shrubs fades to a dull red in winter and returns to a bright red in the spring as the plants break their winter dormancy and begin the more active metabolism of the growing season. If you are familiar with the process of collecting sap from sugar maples to make syrup, you know that the sap is running now, long before the maples leaf out or flower. The same is true of Cornus stolonifera. Some of the processes are already underway to begin growth for this year, but the only obvious external sign is the brightening of the bark. Cornus stolonifera does not leaf out and flower for about 2 more months, until about the third week in May, on average, on the UW-Green Bay campus.

Our pond has gone from 95% ice cover to completely open in the past 24 hours; first fox sparrows seen, and first wild turkeys gobbling, Town of Cooperstown, Manitowoc County (Joel Trick).

Mar 23

The Army Corps of Engineers reports that the Green Bay water level is up about 7 inches from this time last year. Low water level has been a problem for shipping and recreational boaters over the last couple of years. The water level is still about 17 inches below the long-term average. Fluctuations in the water level, including the very low portions of the cycle, are an important part of maintaining biodivideristy in the coastal wetlands.

Tundra Swans at Navarino Wildlife Area, Shawano County (Katie Hemauer).

Mar 22

The morning low temperature in Green Bay was 17° F, but a cold front sliding by to the north brought the low to 3° in Wausau and -16° in Marquette, Michigan!

Double-crested Cormorant at Fox River/Hwy 172, Brown County (Ned Dorff).

Mar 20

Today is the vernal equinox, the "official" first day of spring and the day for which the periods of light and dark are of equal length. Perhaps more importantly for those of us waiting anxiously for the return of summer's plants and animals, it is the time during which the daylength increases most quickly. In the week centered on the vernal equinox, the period of light each day will increase about 18 minutes.

First killdeer, grackles and sandhill cranes; common redpolls
and pine siskins still present at our feeders. Town of Cooperstown, Manitowoc County (Joel Trick).

Mar 19 Two Killdeer on UWGB campus (Tom Erdman).
Mar 18 Green Bay has had snow on 10 of the first 18 days of March. The U.S. Weather Service reported 3.2 inches today, much of it melting, but enough remained to cover lawns and streets. Nearly a foot of snow has fallen in the last week in some locations in northern Wisconsin and there are reports of up to 3 feet of snow still on the ground in the heavy snow areas of northern Wisconsin. Rhinelander reported 30 inches of snow on the ground earlier this week. Low overnight temperatures and cool cloudy days have slowed the advance of spring. Ice fisherman in northern Wisconsin report considerable slush and water on top of the ice.
Mar 16 Many Northern Saw-whet Owls back--12 banded, Oconto County (Tom Erdman).
Mar 14 Snow (1 inch) and rain over night, then warmer and winds averaging 19 mph-- the new ice is off the East River as temperature reaches 38° F, Brown County.
Mar 13

After three nights of low temperatures in the teens, there is a new, thin layer of ice over the East River, Allouez, Brown County.

First brown-headed cowbirds of the season at our feeders today, T.of Cooperstown, Manitowoc County (Joel Trick).

Mar 11

Green Bay received 0.8 inches of snow, a low temperature of 16° F and winds of about 25 mph throughout the day, dampeniing any thoughts of spring for the short term. March is a period of rapid change, the average high temperature rises from 31 to 46° F during the month, and the day length (sunrise to sunset) increases by about 93 minutes.

Eastern Meadowlark seen near Maribel, Manitowoc County (Joel Trick).

Mar 10

First woodchuck of the year seen this morning, crossing highway 57 adjacent to the Cofrin Arboretum, UWGB (Joel Trick).

Sandhill Cranes return to Shawano (Joel Whitehouse).

Mar 09

The Green Bay office of the U.S. Weather Service today listed the "official" snow depth as "0". It is difficult to pick an exact date that the snow is gone because there is so much variation from one site to the next, and of course the deeper drifts and snowbanks still persist. The maximum depth was 15 inches on Feb 6 and 7 and we had continuous snowcover of at least a "trace" for 64 days--since January 4. We had a total of 38.7 inches of snow for the winter, so far, but March frequently adds to the total so it is probably not over yet.

Song Sparrows back, Oconto County, Pensaukee (Tom Erdman).

Mar 08 Saw-whet Owls calling, Oconto County, Pensaukee (Tom Erdman).
Mar 07 The Green Bay area had a total of 2.9 inches of snow over the last 4 days (March 4-7)
Mar 05

Ice is off the East River at Beaupre Street today. There is still a lot of floating ice and debris, but the winter ice cover is gone. Last year the ice came off 03/25. The average date since 1986 is 03/22, the earliest was 02/24/1998(!) and the latest was 04/10/1996 (Gary Fewless). The East River near Allouez Avenue was open yesterday.

Moderate and prolonged rains, mixed with snow have resulted in local flood warnings in eastern Wisconsin and heavy snowfall is predicted in the north.

Mar 03

The Fox River is mostly open today at the Highway 172 bridge although there is still some ice along the shores, especially where the river widens near Jones Point.

Skunks out of dens, Florence, WI (James F. Gehlhoff)

Mar 02

First song sparrow seen this morning, Town of Cooperstown, Manitowoc County (Joel Trick)

A single Sandhill Crane flying north this morning, Door County, near Little Sturgeon (Pete Wolter).

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Last updated on May 20, 2015