According to the calendar, today is the first day of spring! But the plants and animals around us tell the real story. Whether you're in New England awaiting the next Nor'easter or in the west hoping for a little more rain, our status of spring maps predict whether spring has actually arrived at your location, and whether it is early or late this year.  

Our First Leaf Index predicts the leaf out of plants that are among the first to show their leaves in the spring (think lilacs and other early season shrubs). The map on the  top right
shows spring leaf out across  the country so far this year. 

The colors represent the difference between this year and a 30-year average. Red colors indicate this year is ahead of normal; blue indicates this year is behind normal for a particular location. Spring leaf out arrived early in the west and mid-Atlantic, but late in much of the Southeast. 

The First Bloom Index represents  blooming of lilacs and other shrubs as well as  leaf out of deciduous trees. The map on the lower right shows that the Bloom Index, which predicts phenology activity at a later point in the spring, tells a different story than the Leaf index. Aside from parts of Texas, the spring bloom has arrived early across the country so far this year, including in the Southeast. 

How will spring shape up across the remainder of the country, and how will this year's spring impact plant and animal phenology? Only time will tell!




What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN
Pheno Forecasts predict pest activity near you            
Our new Pheno Forecast maps show when management actions should be taken for five pest species including emerald ash borer, apple maggot, lilac bor er, hemlock woolly adelgid, and winter moth. These maps are updated daily and are available 6 days in the future.
How does calendar spring stack up to nature?   
Today marks the Spring Equinox, the first day of astronomical spring. However, it doesn't often match up to plant and animal activity on the ground. We compared the Spring Equinox to the USA-NPN's First Leaf Index for our nation's capital to see how calendar spring stacks up to nature. The majority of years have seen spring leaf out occur days to weeks earlier than calendar "spring". 
Is spring leaf out early in your area?        

Spring leaf out continues to arrive early in the West, Southwest, and mid-Atlantic, compared to a long-term average (1981-2010). Spring leaf out arrived one week early in Salt Lake City, UT, and two weeks early in Boise, ID. Parts of Nevada and eastern Washington, Oregon, and California are 4-5 weeks early. 
Julio Betancourt and Mark Schwartz, USA-NPN co-founders
Celebrating 10 years of USA-NPN and NN           
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the USA National Phenology Network and the 10th year of data collection in Nature's Notebook!

We are celebrating with monthly highlights on different aspects of our program. This month, we feature USA-NPN co-founders  Dr. Julio Betancourt of the US Geological Survey and Dist. Prof. Mark D. Schwartz of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Recent happenings in the field of phenology
Linking time-lapse images to observations

To better link phenology data from time-lapse cameras and on-the-ground observations, authors of a new study in Ecosphere compared digital images of tree foliage color from spring to autumn to observations made using the USA-NPN protocols. The authors also found that chill and minimum temperature in autumn, drought stress in autumn, and heat stress in summer are all important factors to the timing of peak fall foliage color.

Long term springcasting

USA-NPN collaborators Drs. Toby Ault and Carlos Carrillo at Cornell University recently released a  new tool  to forecast spring. The team uses long-term weather forecasts to predict when spring will arrive a whole season in advance. 

This tool is a great compliment to the USA-NPN's Status of Spring 
maps, which use real-time weather data to show short-term forecasts, 
spring's actual arrival date, and how the arrival compares to normal. 
Hermit Warbler 
Photo: Tom Grey
Spring birdsong shifting earlier

Authors of a new study in The Condor: Ornithology Applications studied the timing of song and other vocal activity in birds in Northern California. They found that Neotropical migrants may be less flexible than residents in adapting their phenology to changes in climate. The method of survey, which involved automated sound recorders, has potential to track shifts in elevation, population, and changes in breeding behaviors for many bird species.  
More ways to get involved
Celebrate National Citizen Science Day

April 14th is National Citizen Science Day! This year will mark the third year of this major celebration. Find out about events planned across the country, or learn how to plan your own event.

Learn more » 
Grants for Climate Adaptation projects

Pre-proposals are now being accepted for the Wildlife Conservation Society's Climate Adaptation Fund for two-year projects that implement science-driven, on-the-ground actions that assist wildlife and ecosystems to adapt to climate change on the landscape scale.  
Selected projects will be awarded $50,000 to $250,000. Must be a 
501(c)(3). Pre-proposals due April 6th. We are happy to write letters of 
support for projects that include phenology monitoring with Nature's Notebook

Learn more » 
Especially for Local Phenology Leaders
Observer at Ijams Nature Center, Photo: Mac Post
LPP Highlight: Ijams Nature Center 

Each newsletter this year, we will highlight one of our wonderful Local Phenology Programs. Do you want your LPP to be featured? Email ! This month we highlight the winners of the LPL annual survey swag bag.

Ijams Nature Center , a non-profit organization, manages a 300 acre park within the Knoxville, TN city limits only a few miles from the downtown business district. They have developed a Citizen Science program to engage volunteers and educate visitors and schools about the importance of natural ecosystems in sustainability of their urban communities through the ecosystem services they provide. Phenology is a perfect fit for this new program. They started phenology observations just over one year ago with volunteers making observations on two plots with 25 trees and 10 different species. This year they plan to add a couple of new plots for participation in the Shady Invaders Campaign.
New and improved Host an Event page

Are you planning a training workshop, public outreach event, or tabling session? Our updated Host an Event page is a great resource to find the slide deck, sample agenda, or handout you've been looking for!  

View the Host an Event page » 
Shirt with phenology calendar to celebrate year one
Annual Report from the Chicago 606   

The Chicago 606 is a elevated railway-turned public park that stretches 2.7 miles west-east toward Lake Michigan. The Environmental Sentinel program tracks the bloom times of cloned flowering trees planted along the length of the trail. The program has just released their year one report, which serves as a great example of a Local Phenology Program annual report! 

Join us for monthly LPL calls    

On the third Friday of every month at 10 am PDT, Education Coordinator LoriAnne Barnett holds calls for Local Phenology Leaders to share ideas and resources.  Calls focus on topics of interest such as program planning, volunteer engagement, advanced training resources, and more! 


Erin Posthumus 
Outreach Coordinator
 LoriAnne head shot
LoriAnne Barnett
Education Coordinator