Afton State Park Phenology, Week of May 29, 2020

From bobolinks to butterflies, it’s a busy time of year at the popular park along the lower river.




4 minute read

Afton State Park Visitor Center (Photo by McGhiever via Wikipedia)

Afton State Park volunteer Nina Manzi has been updating the phenology calendar in the visitor center with events and pictures for years. Since the visitor center has been closed and visitors haven’t been able to check the phenology calendar to see what signs of spring to look for, Nina is sending it online.

Phenology is the study of recurring events in the life cycle of plants and animals, many of which are closely tied to patterns of climate and seasonality. Learn more at the Minnesota Phenology Network.


On the prairie, look for meadowlarks, bobolinks, tree swallows, and eastern bluebirds,
and for turkey vultures circling overhead.

Near the water look for herons, sandpipers, and red-winged blackbirds.

Warbler migration is winding down, but you still may see a few in the woods. Indigo buntings and robins have returned for the summer.

Nesting season continues! Watch for robins and bluebirds feeding nestlings and geese, ducks, and turkeys leading groups of young birds.


Animals active primarily in the daytime, like squirrels, are called “diurnal”. Those active mostly at night, like raccoons, are “nocturnal”. And those active at dawn and dusk, like skunks, are called “crepuscular.”

Amphibians and reptiles

Listen for the frog and toad chorus in the evening. You may hear western chorus frogs, tree frogs, and American toads.

Turtles and snakes bask in the sunshine. Turtles will be laying eggs soon, and late-hatchers from last year’s nests are emerging and making their way to the water.


On sunny days look for butterflies and bees visiting early-blooming flowers. You may see Tiger Swallowtails, recently returned Monarchs. Also watch for Green Darner Dragonflies.


With trees leafed out, the spring ephemeral season draws to a close, and early flowers begin to bloom on the prairie.

With our relatively cool spring, continue to hunt for morel mushrooms in the woods after thunderstorms.

Weather observations

Here are some weather observations for this week from past years.

Friday, May 292018 and 2006: record high of 94°
Saturday, May 302015: 1⁄2” rain
Sunday, May 312014: 3⁄4” rain
Monday, June 12014: record 2.37” rain
Tuesday, June 22015: high in 70s
Wednesday, June 32008: 61°
Thursday, June 42019: 1 1⁄4” rain


You may republish this article online or in print under our Creative Commons license. You may not edit or shorten the text, you must attribute the article to St. Croix 360 and you must include the author’s name in your republication.

If you have any questions, please email


Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlikeCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike
Afton State Park Phenology, Week of May 29, 2020