Jeffers Foundation


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


Phenology: Third Week of March

This can be the week of many firsts, such as the return of the killdeers, great blue herons, song sparrows, and brown-headed cowbirds. The first garter snakes may come out of their underground dens for some early spring sunning. Migratory American robins, eastern bluebirds, wood ducks, and common grackles arrive in numbers. With much honking and fanfare, pairs of Canada geese claim their wetland nesting territories.

March 19, 2016 - Crocuses began blooming. Wood ducks were checking out nesting boxes, the first Canada geese were incubating, and mallards began egg laying.

March 23, 2016 - In Northfield, as five inches of heavy wet snow fell, 40 northern cardinals at one time were counted at a feeding station.

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

Species of the Month

Wood duck (Aix sponsa)

Wood duck (<em>Aix sponsa</em>)
Travis Daniel Bonovsky

Equally at home in woodland or water, the gentle wood duck is regarded as one of the most beautiful birds. They winter from Missouri south to the Gulf states and into Mexico, and the first ones return to southern Minnesota and the Twin Cities by mid-March. The male has a green head and crest patterned with white and black, red eyes, a rusty chest, and whitish belly; the female is a brown dabbling duck with a broad white eye-ring. They eat nuts and other seeds, fruit, and aquatic plants and animals, including small fish.

Unlike most waterfowl, wood ducks nest in tree holes and cavities, or man-made nest boxes. The young are called from the nest by their mother within 24-36 hours after hatching and must make a long jump to the ground. The ducklings may jump from heights of over 50 feet without injury.

Astronomy: March

From the outside, we can see the path our solar system takes, along with other stars, through our home galaxy. Approximately 30,000 light-years from the center, our solar system is tipped at a 62 degree angle to the galactic plane. This provides us unique seasonal views of the Milky Way. As spring begins, Earth's night side faces above the disk. With fewer stars in this direction, we have a clear view into intergalactic space. Just three months later, however, we'll be facing into our galactic core, with a stellar population so dense we can't see the other side. Fall will again point us toward the southern pole, with a noticable absence of stars. Finally, winter will align again with the disk, but now pointed away from the core. The Milky Way will not appear as dense as summer, but will still amaze.

Morning Stars

Prior to sunrise, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter appear in the southeast, south, and southwest, respectively. The Moon joins Jupiter on March 7, then Mars and Saturn on March 10. Mars and Saturn move closer together, just 1.65 degrees apart by the end of the month. Look south-southeast an hour before sunrise.

Evening Stars

Mercury and Venus climb out from behind the Sun, appearing just one degree apart, low in the west 30 minutes after sunset on March 20. The best view of Mercury will be on March 15. Look low in the western sky. The pair are joined by the Moon on March 18. By month's end, Venus is nearly 20 degrees from the Sun, while Mercury has dipped back into the Sun's glare.

Sun Declination

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


First migrating American robin arrives (Carver County):
2016 March 6
2015 March 12
2014 March 19
2013 March 15
2012 March 2




1st, Full Moon - 6:51 pm

5th, Mercury 1.40 degrees north of Venus - 12:29 pm

9th, Last Quarter Moon - 5:20 am

11th, Daylight Savings Time begins - 2:00 am

11th, Moon apogee (251,455 miles) - 4:13 am

17th, New Moon Snowshoe Breaking (Ojibwe) - 8:12 am

17th, Mercury 3.88 degrees north of Venus - 8:16 pm

20th, Vernal equinox; spring begins N Hemisphere - 11:15 am

22nd, Moon near Aldebaran high in south - near sunset

24th, First Quarter Moon - 10:53 am

26th, Moon perigee (229,352 miles) - 12:16 pm

28th, Moon occults Regulus - 9:14-9:51 am

28th, Venus 0.07 degrees south of Uranus - 7:13 pm

29th, Moon perigee (226,094 miles) - 7:32 am

31st, Full Moon Blue Moon - 7:37 am

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