A climate action evanston program

Observe the seasons and share

Send us your nature observations. Help create an anecdotal record of the climate we are experiencing.

More about this key action Item

most recent version posted on:
February 4, 2024

Stop, look, listen and feel the beauty of nature that is around us every day.

Submit your nature observations here. We hope to develop a community record of the sights, smells, sounds, snow, storms, and seasons that shaped the year. Help generate an anecdotal record of the climate as we experienced it.

For Inspiration, here are some observations from our friend Mary Moring of Evanston

On yet another gloomy day.
I recollect January as being frigid and bright with February looking the way January has this year. In the early 70s we took our car battery inside so the cold would not have depleted the charge. Of course, that may have had to do with having a battery at the end of its life in our aging car. And our being young and inexperienced. But it was cold!
(As for) wildlife observations this winter, the most striking one for me is that the Prairie Fire crabapple tree in my front yard held most of its fruit until mid-January. In previous years the birds would have picked it clean by Thanksgiving. It is a prolific bearer and it seems to be most favored by robins and squirrels. The smaller birds - sparrows, I think - usually get the last of the fruit because the they can perch on the outer stems.The birch in the back yard has hosted a lot of small birds this year but I don't know what they are.
...I've heard crows in the back in the past few days. They seem to have nested out there in the past couple of years. Not the most favored of visitors, I must say. They are noisy and autocratic and seem to be constantly shouting warnings - whether to other crows or at predators like cats -or maybe squirrels?, I don't know. But noisy and unpleasant.
On February 1:  I predicted we're only a week or so from the sighting the first snow drops. Imagine my amazement when I walking in the sun today and noted the neighbor's Calamagrostis has green blades fully 4'' long already.  That really seems to be pushing the season!


Phenology: study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life.


  • Leave your leaves, plant stalks and seedheads for wildlife.  You can rake leaves away from walkways.  They are a natural fertilizer. Insects and birds live, forage and rely on garden debris.
  • Check for and remedy windows dangerous for birds.
purple coneflower seedhead in winter
Purple coneflower seedhead in winter @ Leslie Shad


  • If you use a birdbath, change it regularly to keep it clean, and consider using a solar or electric heating element.


  • Most trees should be pruned when trees are still in deep dormancy. To avoid the introduction of disease pathogens to oaks and elms, prune October 15-April 15.  Spring flowering trees should be pruned after flowers have dropped. Wait 2+ years after planting before pruning, and do not drastically remove many branches; allow trees to recover.  How to prune.


  • Spring bird migration starts mid-March.  However, watch for early migrants: as the climate warms, some migrants may arrive earlier. 
  • Bird-Friendly Windows: Touch up DIY solutions (ceramic pen, tempera paint markings).
  • @ March 4 Red Winged Blackbirds arrive, usually males first.
Bird at window
Common yellowthroat warbler (female) at a Northwestern University window area @ Laine Hoffman


  • Mid-late April – hang your hummingbird feeder with a solution 4 parts water to 1 part plain cane sugar. No special sugars or dyes recommended.
  • @ April 8 native sparrows and kinglets return.
  • @ April 20 hummingbirds return. Shortly after, warblers start to return.
  • Have the falcons returned to the Evanston Public Library?
  • If the ground has thawed, you can start planting trees and shrubs until June, when it has usually warmed up.


  • Prime month for spring plantings.
  • Look for native plant sales: Chicago Bird Alliance, Evanston Enviornment Association (Bird Buzz), Go Green Wilmette, Highland Garden Club, Lake County Forest Preserve, Openlands.
  • Early May – Baltimore Orioles are back. Hang your Baltimore Oriole feeder if you use one.  
  • Is MWRD offering free baby oaks again? Plant an oak in a large container until it is big enough to move into a yard.
  • Pollinators emerge as the air temperatures are 50oF.
Butterfly weed, poppy mallow, ohio spiderwort @Leslie Shad
Butterfly weed, poppy mallow, ohio spiderwort @Leslie Shad


  • Spring bird migration ends mid-June.


  • Many summer plants are in full bloom in July.
  • Pollinators should be abuzz.


  • Fall bird migration starts mid-August.  
  • Bird-Friendly Windows: Touch up DIY solutions (ceramic pen, tempera paint markings).
  • Pick out your fall plants.


  • Has cooler weather arrived?  If yes, you can plant herbaceous plants.  Give them 1” deep water/week until they go dormant (die down) for the winter.
  • Peak fall migration continues into mid October.


  • Remember to leave leaves, plant stalks and seedheads for wildlife.  
  • October and November are good months for fall plantings of trees and shrubs.  Plantings can continue until the ground freezes.  Give new plantings 1” deep water/week until the ground freezes.


  • @ Nov 8 Woodcocks depart.
  • Fall bird migration ends early November.  However, watch for late migrants: as the climate changes, some migrants might leave later.
  • Late blooming asters and goldenrods are going dormant.



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You're Needed! Here Are Some Involvement Opportunities

Donating to Climate Action Evanston and earmarking your donation for Natural Habitat Evanston. You can further earmark your donation to one of our initiatives.

Take the Pollinator and Bird Pledge

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Join our Pollinator Pledge and let the city and landscapers know we care about sustainable yards. Take an optional yard sign to spread the word.

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Stay updated on green goings on in Evanston, workdays, advocacy issues and more.

Buffalo Grass Anyone?

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$25/bag to local residents (pickup; no shipping). We also have some $5 seed packets of bottlebrush and little bluestem grass. While supplies last. Emails should include your phone number and which species you are requesting. Pay by check payable to Citizens’ Greener Evanston at pickup.

Volunteer at plantings and invasive removals: parks and schools

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Help at outdoor workdays

Join No Mow May

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Rethink how you Lawn

Sign on: Northwestern students Petition for Bird-Friendly Films at Mudd Library

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Northwestern students Petition for Bird-Friendly Films at Mudd Library. Mudd Library accounts for over 14% of bird deaths and injuries on campus each year. Applying patterned window film to a portion of the building would dramatically reduce collisions that are fatal to birds.

More Ways to Volunteer: Spread the word

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Share out brochures, doorhangers, or flyers. Collect a bunch of materials on the 5th Ward Tree Giveaway, Pollinator Pledge, Eco landscaping, Yard care, Light pollution, Leaf blowers are an eco-disaster, or Buffalo Grass.

Join our Facebook Group

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Get updates and share your thoughts on our FB Group. You can also check out our FB page here https://www.facebook.com/NaturalHabitatEvanston

More yard signs: Mowing, Leaves, Leafblowers?

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Just want to spread the word on certain steps? Mow Less-Leave Leaves (2-sided yard sign) or Leafblowers sign

Join the Isabella Woods Newsletter

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Get news the next time there is a threat to Isabella Woods. (Only sent when there is news.)

Certify with National Wildlife Federation

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Provide Food, Water, Shelter, Places to Raise Young and Sustainable Steps for wildlife. It helps Evanston maintain its NWF Community-wide Wildlife Habitat certification.