Spring has officially arrived! It still looks and feels more like winter around me, but the snow is melting, it rained the other day, and I saw a couple of Canada Geese. For a little while, I was questioning whether I really remembered what grass and dirt looked like. But my faith in spring has been restored, and I can’t wait to see some green.
One reason I can’t wait for spring to progress is because I’m doing something I’ve never tried before. Maple syruping! According to Twin Cities Naturalist, the sap has been running in the twin cities for a little while now. I haven’t seen any sap yet, but I am farther north and hope to see some in my buckets soon. In addition to maples, I also tapped a few paper birches. I’ve never tasted birch syrup before but heard that it is delicious. I could have sworn someone told me a few years ago that syrup could be made from red pine sap, but I couldn’t find any information on it.
While researching when the sap starts to run in my area, I came across a maple syrup citizen science project! Journey North has a multitude of citizen science projects focused on phenology and seasonal changes. Participant can observe anything from animal migrations like hummingbirds and monarch butterflies to plant activity like sap running and trees budding. Though Journey North is designed primarily for K-12 students, the general public is also welcome to participate and report observations.
There are a number of other citizen science projects that are perfect for spring. With all the changes that take place this time of year, I think it is the funnest time to start a project. Here is a quick list of some spring time projects I put together:
- National Phenology Network: Monitor plant and animal seasonal changes to help study the impacts of climate change. Herbaceous plants, trees, insects, and mammals, the National Phenology Network is one of my favorite projects because there are so many species you can observe.
- Project Budburst: Monitor plants and their phenophases (such as leafing, flowering, and fruiting) as the seasons change.
- NestWatch: Monitor and collect data on nesting birds to track reproductive success.
- SnowTweets: Still have snow? Report how much you have (even if you have 0″) by tweeting it.
- FrogWatch USA: Monitor frogs and toads by listening for and reporting their calls. Training is required to participate and provided through a number of participating AZA accredited zoos.
- North American Amphibian Monitoring Program: Another option for monitoring frogs and toads. Volunteers survey a route for calls several times per year. In Minnesota, the program is run through the Minnesota Frog and Toad Calling Survey.
Any citizen science projects I missed that you think are perfect for spring? I’d also love to hear if you have any maple syruping advice!