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Nature’s Clock: Fern Glen Phenology Trail

What determines when flowers bloom? When butterflies emerge from their cocoons? When trees drop their leaves? Or when birds migrate? Answers to these and other questions about plant and animal lifecycle events can be found in the science of phenology.

Nature’s clock is guided by three main factors: sunlight, temperature, and precipitation (rain, snow, fog). Timing matters – the health of species and ecosystems depends on lifecycle events happening during the right window.

Imagine if flowers bloomed before their pollinators emerged. Or if birds migrated to feeding grounds that lacked the fruits they were intending to forage on. The Fern Glen Phenology Trail builds on the Cary Institute’s commitment to environmental monitoring, with the goal of managing healthy ecosystems.
Citizen Science

Observations are made by staff and volunteers using protocols established by the National Phenology Network. Participants submit data to the Network’s database, where they can be accessed by scientists, teachers, and citizens interested in studying how lifecycle events are changing over time.

Interested in becoming a Fern Glen Phenology Trail observer? Learn more by contacting Vicky Kelly at (845) 677-7600 ext 174 or