As we head into the holiday season, I'd like to give thanks to all of the Nature's Notebook observers who have contributed their time and skills to generate over 1.5 million phenology observation records! That's over 5,000 records submitted per day, on average. We surpassed our goal this year thanks to your continued efforts. Thank you!

Your plants may be shedding their leaves and insects and birds may be heading south, but there is still lots to observe this winter. We have some great tips for you below on winter observations, and you could always seek out a critter tale or two. Also, winter is a great time to enter those paper datasheets you've been keeping, or tag a new plant before it sheds its leaves completely and is difficult to identify. 


What your data are telling us
What patterns did your data reveal this year?

If you missed the Year-end webinar, you can still learn about the patterns revealed in your data. This year we saw a strong climatic dipole, with the western US experiencing record hot and dry temperatures while the east remained relatively cool. 

This was reflected in your observations of campaign species such as quaking aspen, which broke bud earlier in the west than the east, as well as bumblebees, which appeared earlier in the spring in the west than the east.  
What's new at Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN
Name those animals and win a prize!

On November 6th, the number of observation records submitted to Nature's Notebook reached 1.5 million for the year! If you visited the Nature's Notebook homepage this year, you saw the tree representing number of observation records filling up with animals. 

Now you have the opportunity to test your identification skills by naming all of the animals in the tree! There are 25 total animals. The first person to correctly name all 25 will receive their choice of an NPN water bottle, tote bag or hat! Send your lists to
Citizen science just got a big boost

At the end of September, the White House recognized your contributions to Nature's Notebook! Both the Open Science and Innovation Forum and subsequent release of the Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit highlighted Nature's Notebook and the high standard we all set for the involvement of the public in the collection of scientific data. 

Congratulations and thank you for your wonderful contributions to the program!

Botany Primer now available in print

When we released the Botany Primer online last spring, we asked you whether you would like to have the Primer available for purchase in printed form. The reply was overwhelmingly "yes!" 
You can now purchase the Primer in spiral-bound, printed form for $24.99, which includes shipping and handling (USA-NPN makes no profit). Groups should keep in mind that ordering multiple copies saves on shipping and handling costs. And of course you can always download a free PDF copy!

Recent happenings in the field
Photo: Aleksander Kaasik, 
Wikimedia Commons
Do arctic geese surf the Green wave?

An international team of scientists found that Barnacle Geese overtake the green wave, first arriving at the southernmost stopover sites along their migration pathway to fatten up on the peak plant biomass, then arriving at their northern breeding grounds at the local start of spring. This allows geese to give their goslings the highest amount of nutrients and thus the best chance at survival.

Berry harvest in Alaska becoming more unpredictable

Warmer winters may be causing a more unpredictable berry harvest in Alaska, as found by a new study published by the US Geological Survey. This study was made possible by citizen scientists, who are able to access a much wider geographic area than the researchers could themselves.  

Nature's Notebook Nuggets
Photo: Geoff Henebry
Should I still make observations in winter?

In northern states, most plants will not need weekly observations in the middle of winter. However, if your species retains ripe fruit in the winter, you should still report on fruiting phenophases. In southern states, many species may have active flower buds or open flowers that will require normal weekly observations. Get familiar with the seasonal progression of phenophases for your species to predict what's coming!

More ways to get involved
Learn about the Art of Paying Attention

Do you have any cool critter stories from your time spent making phenology observations? Writer and artist Beth Surdut certainly does! Check out her radio pieces on Arizona Spotlight featuring different animal encounters, including with javelinas, horned lizards and Harris Hawks.
Get inspired with these short videos on phenology monitoring

91-year-old citizen scientist Alfred Larson has been monitoring nesting of bluebirds for 35 years. Now that's a long-term record! Watch the trailer or download the 30-minute documentary. 

Scientists at Harvard Forest are studying trees to find out how the forest is responding to climate change. This short video highlights the importance of observers who make on-the-ground observations to ground truth satellite data. 

Erin Posthumus
Outreach Coordinator