Times of the year

What's happening outdoors from one month to the next?

Circular icon with an illustrated flower, sun, falling leaf, and snowflake to represent the four seasons

In your memories of Minnesota seasons, what are plants and animals doing? Some possible answers to this question are below. Let these calendars guide your looking and listening in nature.

Keep in mind that timing in nature is essential but not uniform across Minnesota, nor constant from year to year. The more you observe, the more you are likely to notice differences between the calendar estimates below and your own real-world observations. Use the calendars as a guidepost, while also trusting your own senses and interpretations.

A white snowshoe hare blends in with the snowy backdrop. It has a large black eye, long ears, and its furry body is rounded.

Snowshoe hare with white winter coat
December 29, 2021, St. Louis County Minnesota
Photo © Steve, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)
iNaturalist observation


  • January
    • Snowshoe hares in their white coat
    • First northern cardinal sings "What cheer, cheer, cheer!"
    • Downy woodpeckers drumming
    • Wild turkeys begin gobbling
    • Raccoon and skunk tracks in the snow
    • Great horned owls lay eggs
  • February
    • Get ready to tap maple trees for syrup
    • House finches active
    • First active chipmunks
    • Squirrels mating
    • Horned larks return
A yellow-rumped warbler is perched on flowering tree branches. Its body is mostly black and white. It has yellow on its shoulder, a white throat, a notched tail, and a dark mask around its eyes.

Yellow-rumped warbler in a spring tree
May 5, 2019, Roseau County, Minnesota
Photo © earl woolsey, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC-SA)
iNaturalist observation




Long green leaves of wild rice are lying flat on the surface of the water. The background has a forested shoreline and a blue sky.

Wild rice leaves on the water's surface
June 15, 2021, Todd County, Minnesota
Photo © D.Perleberg, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC-ND)
iNaturalist observation




Silky white seeds of a milkweed plant are spilling out of a pale green pod. They are illuminated in sunlight and have small tear-dropped shaped seeds that are brown.

Common milkweed shedding seeds
October 3, 2020, Beltrami County, Minnesota
Photo © Janet Nelson, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC-ND)
iNaturalist observation



  • Many birds migrating south
  • Muskrats building winter lodges
  • Peak fall color (red maple and tamarack, for example)
  • Soybean and sugar beet harvest
  • Lakes turn over


Indigenous calendars

Ojibwe moons

"Anishinaabeg [Ojibwe people] used to track time passing using the moon."


Dakota moons

"Traditionally, the Dakota used the moon to determine the passing of time. A name was given to the moon each month to symbolize significant events that were important to survival and food gathering."


County calendars

These 1-page phenology calendars list a handful of changes to watch for in select Minnesota counties:

Information on these calendars is based on summaries of historical records (i.e., actual observational datasets).