Falling in Love with Fall

Photo by Amanda Noel.

The official first day of autumn fell on on September 22, 10:49 A.M. EDT. in the Northern Hemisphere. While most of us use the terms autumn and fall interchangeably, in regions with many deciduous trees, fall refers specifically to late autumn, when leaves literally fall from the trees. Each year we observe recurring plant and animal life cycle stages (like leaves falling from trees) in accordance with their timing and relationships to weather and climate. The study of these natural recurrences is called phenology which is derived from the Greek word phaino, meaning to show or appear.

As the summer sun fades into fall, look for these signs in nature that tell us autumn has arrived:

Birds – Observe change in activity and preparations for winter or migrations south among starlings, hawks, geese, and shorebirds.

Animals – Look for signs of winter preparations including butterfly and dragonfly migration, and changes in cricket, cicada, and grasshopper calls.

Plants and Trees – Which plants bloom the latest: Coneflowers, Yarrow, or Black-Eyed Susan? What trees and shrubs lose their leaves, turn colors?

Observe and draw the varieties of tree seeds, nuts, and fruits. Record what you find in a nature journal.

Weather, Sky, Landscapes:

  • Watch for weather changes.
  • Draw cloud shapes, sunsets, and rain patterns.
  • What sounds in nature are changing?
  • Days are noticeably shorter after September 22.
  • Draw a little landscape scene showing tree shapes and color changes.

Looking for fall family fun activities? Check out the FREE Nature Rocks 2012 Fall Activity Guide by clicking here.

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