biodiversity homepage      

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 2012 Mouse-over the photo for the identity of the subject

Mar 31

In March 2012 Green Bay was 16.7° F above normal (!) making it the warmest March ever in recorded climate data for Green Bay. The monthly average temperature of 46.3° F was 4.9° warmer than the previous record of 41.4° in 1910 and 15.5° higher than "normal". Other warm Marches were 41.1° in 1945, 39.5 in 1973, and 39.4° in 1946 and 2000. Feb 2012 was also very warm at 8.9° above "normal".

Green Bay's March 2012 average temperature was 2.4° F warmer than a normall April!!

Bristly buttercup (Ranunculus hispidus) and dog violet (Viola labradorica) in flower.

White-throated Sparrow, Hermit Thrush and Snipe are back, Pensaukee, Oconto County (Tom Erdman).

Mar 28

Hop-hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) in flower (anthesis).

I saw an Egret on the Fox River today (Joel Trick).

Mar 27

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) in flower. This is an alien speices of disturbed, sunny sites, but it is apparently not very common in Wisconsin. The earliest flowering date previously was April 18.

Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) in flower; a planted individual.

Mar 26

Green Bay's temperature had not fallen to or below freezing for 15 consecutive days, until this morning when it fell to about 29° F. The high rose only to 43°.

There is a Killdeer nest in Brown County, Town of Eaton, with one egg today (Joel Trick). This is apparently the earliest active Killdeer nest in Wisconsin (There are 3 eggs by March 28).

Mar 25

Bebb's willow (Salix bebbiana) in flower (anthesis) City of Green Bay.

Belted Kingfisher, Brown County.

Mar 23

The day is a little cooler and cloudy with fog and mist, but very little rain (0.26 inches for the day). Nevertheless, the little bit of rain has caused conspicuous greening of the plants.

A couple of general notes concerning the unusual weather and the effect on regional ecosystems. There have been newspaper articles about the fish populations of Lake Michigan following behavior typical of about a month later in average years, causing them to move out of locations where they would normally be at this date. They are generally believed to have moved farther north and/or into deeper water. A second related point is that the winter produced very little snow and what did fall has melted very early. Therefore the streams flowing into Lake Michigan are already at very low levels and fish that use the streams to spawn are not able to use these waterways, or the young fish produced will not be able to make it back downstream to get to the lake. If anyone has specific data on either of these issues, I will add notes here if you inform me.

Road kill snapping turtle Town of Wescott, Shawano County (Joel Whitehouse).

Mar 22

American Toads calling, Brown County, DePere (Erin Gnass).

Gray Tree Frog calling, Oconto County, Pensaukee (Tom Erdman). This is very early for that species in our area.

First Common Loon of the year, Forest County (Ashley Fehrenbach).

There appears to be the start of a new Bluebird nest in one of the nest boxes on UW-Green Bay (Josh Martinez).

Mar 21

Green Bay's high temperature is 82° F and for the sixth consecutive day sets a record high temperature.

Box elder (Acer negundo) in flower (anthesis), UW-Green Bay (Gary Fewless).

Many phenology reports are about 3 weeks earlier than the previous earliest report--not 3 weeks earlier than the average, but than the previous extreme earliest report. These are very extreme events.

I have 6 independent and reliable reports of (leatherwood) Dirca palustris in flower in the last couple of days: March 18 Ashland County (two independent reports), March 19 Langlade County, March 20 Door and Brown counties and March 21 in Forest County. The previous early date I had for Dirca was April 8. This is therefore about 3 weeks earlier than the earliest previous report and more than a month earlier than average.

Sapsuckers, Loon and many Flickers back, Oconto County (Tom Erdman).

Mar 20

Today is the spring equinox or vernal equinox for which the periods of light and dark are equal, the sun rises directly in the east and by convention, it is the first day of spring.

Green Bay's temperature reached 80° F, the fifth consecutive day of record high temperature. It is also the earliest date that Green Bay reached 80° F in the entire recorded climate record.

Saw a Painted Turtle crossing the road ("Circle Drive") this morning, UW-Green Bay. The earliest I had seen Painted Turtles crossing roads in this area previously was April 20!!


Saw my first Turkey Vulture this morning, soaring over the highway, City of Green Bay (Erin Gnass).

Eastern Phoebe singing in Lakewood, Oconto County (Steve Janke).

Tree Swallow and Eastern Phoebe in Oneida, WI (Brian Pierce).

The following plants, planted in yard: Bloodroot ( Sanguinaria canadensis) in full bloom (lst year not until April 3). Leatherwood (Dirca palustris) full bloom, Larix laricina leaves already 3-5 mm growth showing, City of Green Bay (Vicki Medland).

Palm Warblers back, City Green Bay (Dave Lawrence).

Belted Kingfisher and Fox Sparrow, Sturgeon bay (Kari Hagenow).

American Toad, Oconto County, Pensaukee (Tom Erdman).

Saw my first White Cabbage Butterfly today plus spiders making webs too, City GB, east side (Dave Parsons)

Mar 19

This is the fourth consecutive day of record high temperatures for Green Bay, reaching 77° F. The previous record was 71 in 1903. Rhinelander also set a record at 79° F, the previous record was 70° in 1910. Also record highs for Antigo, Appleton, Merrill and Wausau.

Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis) and Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) in flower, UWGB. Both species are strictly horticultural here, but they are very widely planted.

Forsythia sp. in flower, City of Green Bay (Josh Martinez).

Chipping Sparrow back, City of Green Bay (Bob Howe).

Mar 18

Green Bay set another daily high temperature record at 79° F. Green Bay's low temperature was the warmest on record at 53° F; previous record was 45°.

Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) in flower, UWGB (earliest plants are in springs).

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) in flower UWGB (first flowering plants are near southe side of buildings).

Bumble bee, UW-Green Bay (Bob Howe and Amy Wolf). [my earliest record previously was April 5, but it is not a strong dataset--only 10 previous dates, GF]

Mar 17

Green Bay's high temperature of 78° F is a record for the date and similar highs across northeastern Wisconsin set records in other cities as well. Also Green Bay's low temperature was a new record also at 54°, and the previous warmest low temperature for the date was 40°!!!

Red maple (Acer rubrum, last year first flowered April17 -- 31 days later), Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis), Brown County. American elm (Ulmus americana), Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila), big-tooth Aspen (Populus grandidentata), pussy willow (Salix discolor) all in flower, UW-Green Bay.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly out, Brown County Reforestation Camp. This one may have been out quite a bit earlier and just wasn't seen.

Eastern Garter Snake out and sunning, Brown County, Neshota County Park. Also reported from Shawano (Joel Whitehouse).

Mar 16

Another day of record temperatures for Rhinelander (69° F) and other cities. Green Bay tied the record high of 70° F.

First sighting for Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel Town of Humboldt, Brown County (Josh Martinez). This is the earliest record I have (16 years of data).

First sightings for Woodchuck Town of Eaton, Brown County.

Wasps, around buildings, UW-Green Bay.

Ragwort (Senecio vulgaris) in flower. This is by far the earliest date for this species on UWGB. With 20 years of data going back to 1986 (but missing a few years along the way) the previous earliest date was April 7 (2004).

Mar 15
water strider

First day for water striders UW-Green Bay. Last year the first day was April 5.

Green Bay did not set a record high temperature today, but several other Wisconsin cities did, including Rhinelander at 65° F and Antigo and 63.

Fox Sparrow, UWGB (Josh Martinez)

Ice is off Prairie Pond, UW-Green Bay. Last year the date was April 9.

American Hazel (Corylus americana) and Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) began to flower (anthesis) UW-Green Bay. Last year the same Corylus americana plant didn't flower until April 17 (33 days later).

Meadow Lark back at Oak Orchard, Oconto County and also one bird on UW- Green Bay (Tom Erdman).

Mar 14

This is about the date that phenology records began to make a big jump compared to all previous years of data.

Green Bay's temperature hit 75° F today, setting a new record for the date. The "normal" high for this date is 39° F and the normal low is 22° F. The previous record high was 73°.

Shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) is in flower in lawns, UW-Green Bay. Last year the first flowering was April 23 (40 days later).

A large flock of Tundra Swans arrived on Green Bay, Oconto County, town of Pensaukee (Tom Erdman).

Spring Peepers and Wood frogs started calling in small numbers, Oconto County, town of Pensaukee (Tom Erdman). Also, same frog species calling in Shawano County, Town of Waukechon (Joel Whitehouse). I heard mostly Wood Frogs, but a few Spring Peepers at Brown county Reforestation Camp also on this date 03/14.

Earthworms are up--many fresh castings, Oconto County, town of Pensaukee (Tom Erdman).

Mar 13
Speckled alder (Alnus incana) has begun to flower (anthesis), City of Green Bay.  

The flow of spring flood water is beginning to decrease a little in Baird Creek..
Mar 12
sandhill crane I saw two Sandhill Cranes on the athletic fields at UW-Green Bay this morning.

Birds at Sensiba Wildlife Area, Brown County: Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Redhead Duck, Killdeer, American Coot. Also a Leopard Frog seen at Sensiba,but not calling (Josh Martinez).

Green Bay's high temperature was 57° F today, and even more remarkable was the overnight low of 47° F. If I read the data correctly this is a record for the highest low temperature for this date.

Mar 11

Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) has begun to flower (anthesis) in city of Green Bay. The average date of first flower for this tree is March 25, from 26 years of data, but the range from earliest to latest year is 30 days.

Sandhill Crane, Depere, Brown County (Aaron Groves). Other reports for Shiocton Area (Outagamie County) on "Wisconsin Birding List".

Mar 10

Today is roughly the start of Major period of warming, producing numerous record high temperatures (and record warm low temperatures too) and resulting in an acceleration of phenology events far earlier than any year within my records for the last 27 years.

Eastern Bluebirds, Song Sparrows, Rusty Blackbirds and Killdeer back, Pensukee, Oconto County (Tom Erdman).

Chipmunk out and about, near UW-Green Bay (Bob Howe).

American Woodcock calling in the evening, Depere, Brown County (Aaron Groves).

The stormwater detention pond north of St Joseph St at East River Drive is ice-free as of the afternoon today. Last year the ice didn't come off until April 5.

Flocks of Robins and Grackles,Shawano County, Town of Waukechon (Joel Whitehouse).

Mar 8

The ice is off the East River at my usual check point in Allouez. The river froze at this location on Dec 23, so the ice-covered period was 76 days. The average ice-covered period is 104 days (with 21 years of data).

Mar 7
The weather exceeded expectations in Green Bay yesterday, reaching 52° F and the low temperature last night was 40°. However that was at about 8:00 p.m. and warm air moved in raising the temperature to 51° by 11:00 p.m.
snow melt
The first two photos show how quickly the snow melted in just 24 hours from yesterday morning until this morning. The third photo is the followup this afternoon, just 30.5 hours after the first photoand the fourth photo is just 47 houors after the first photo.
I saw a "wooly bear" caterpillar crawling across the lawn this morning and Tom Erdman reports a Robin on UWGB campus this morning.
By afternoon there were several large flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and grackles in the City of Green Bay.
A number of "first-of-the-year birds": Tons of Red-winged Blackbirds and American Robins, a number of Common Grackles, 5 Green-winged Teal, 3 Ring-necked Ducks, 20+ Northern Shovelers, and a lone White-throated Sparrow, Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, Green Bay (Kari Hagenow). 

baird Creek
Ice is off Baird Creek.
Mar 6 Lots of bird activity this morning. There was vigorous calling from Cardinals, Blue Jays and Crows and a single calling Red-winged Blackbird in our marsh in Allouez (within greater Green Bay area). With high temperatures forecast in upper 40's the next two days we may well see flocks of Redwings, Grackles and Starlings by the end of the week. We exceeded 32° F before 9 a.m. and reached 43° before noon. Plenty of melting.
Mar 5 An unexpectedly cold morning with low temperature of +3° F in Green Bay. Warmer weather is forecast soon.
Mar 3

Another 1.1 inches of snow after midnight at the end of yesterday's storm brings the storm total to7.3 inches of snow, easily our biggest snow storm of the winter.

About 15 Red-winged Blackbirds and some Common Grackles at my feeders, Little Suamico, Oconto County (Tom Erdman).

Mar 2 Green Bay received 6.2 inches of wet, heavy snow, taking down branches and causing power outages to many area residents.
Mar 1

Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is in flower (anthesis) in flowing springs where the soil freezes little or not at all in winter. This is about 2 weeks earlier than last spring for these plants. Other plants in less benevolent sites are not yet in flower and may lag behind for several weeks.

© 2001-2004 The Cofrin Center for Biodiversity and the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, All Rights Reserved
Last updated on May 20, 2015