Jeffers Foundation


Data from Freshwater Society Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendar and Almanac (Jim Gilbert for Phenology and Rod Nerdahl for Astronomy)


Phenology: Fourth Week of May

Red-eyed vireos have returned from their winter in South America to sing simple but hurried whistled phrases like "here I am" or "look up" in our vast broad-leaved forests. The big warbler migration is on and birders can expect to see about 21 species of these tiny songsters. Common tree frogs have become very vocal. Silver maple seeds are tan-brown and falling, as eastern cottonwood trees shed myriads of seeds on cotton carriers. In southern Minnesota, eastern kingbirds and great crested flycatchers have just returned, and eastern bluebirds are busy feeding young nestlings. In northern Minnesota, the first black flies are on the wing, serviceberry shrubs are covered with white flowers, and aspens and birches have small leaves.

May 22, 2016 - At Moose Lake in Carlton County, apple and crabapple trees were covered with blossoms.

View the May Phenology Information from the Freshwater Society Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendar and Almanac >>

Species of the Month

Golden-crowned kinglet (Regulus satrapa)

Golden-crowned kinglet (<em>Regulus satrapa</em>)
Mary Lynn Cervantes

Note the bright crown patch of the golden-crowned kinglet; yellow on females, and orange plus yellow edges on males, bordered by black on both sexes. These kinglets are tiny 3-1/2 inch, active birds with small slender bills. Their song is a series of "seet-seet-seet" notes rising in tone to a tumbling chatter. They are insect eaters. The peak of spring migration for this diminutive bird throughout Minnesota is early to mid-April. In summer the golden-crowned kinglet is a resident primarily in the boreal forest of the north-central and northeastern regions. They winter in the southern states and into Mexico and Central America.

Astronomy: May

Leo and the stars of spring are prominent in the south as darkness falls, but you may notice that stars are sparse. At this time of year we are looking out the top of our Milky Way galaxy. Notice the galaxy is nowhere to be seen, lost in the glare of the horizon. The plane of that enormous disk of stars is lined up with our horizon at this time of year. While our galaxy is 100,000 light-years across, the disk of our galaxy is only 1000 light-years thick, causing this noticeable lack of stars in the evening sky.

Morning Stars

Mercury starts the month low in the pre-dawn sky and starts its trek around the back of the Sun, getting lost in the morning glare by month's end. Mars, Saturn, Juptier, and the Moon will make a long line across the southern horizon, spanning 65 degrees and visible after 2 am. The Moon closes in on Saturn early in the morning on May 4, and then on Mars May 6. The Moon will make another Saturn pass, within one degree, on May 31.

Evening Stars

The month begins with Venus putting on a show in the evening sky that will last all summer. Appearing west-northwest at 14 degrees above the horizon one hour after sunset, Venus will get brighter as it moves around the back of its orbit. The Moon will appear next to it on May 17. Jupiter will be at opposition on May 9, rising in the east at sunset and staying up all night long. This will be its closest approach to Earth, and the best time to view it through a telescope. Even a good pair of binoculars is adequate to see its four large Galilean Moons. The Moon will make a close pass on May 27.

Sun Declination

View the May Astronomy Information from the Freshwater Society Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendar and Almanac >>


First monarch butterfly arrives (Carver County):
2016 May 24
2015 June 1
2014 May 21
2013 May 31
2012 May 2




5th, Moon apogee (251,318 miles) - 7:35 pm

6th, Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower peark - 2:53 am

7th, Last Quarter Moon - 9:09 pm

12th, Mercury 2.40 degrees south of Uranus - 6:01 pm

15th, New Moon Budding Plants (Ojibwe)

16th, Moon near Aldebaran rising in east - 6:56 am

17th, Moon perigee (226,040 miles) - 4:04 pm

21st, First Quarter Moon - 10:49 pm

29th, Full Moon - 9:19 am

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