Phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life.
Image by Tim Kennelty

Phenology, the study of seasonal natural phenomena, is the focus of this episode.

Episode 21: Phenology

Phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life. Join Heidi Bock from the Columbia Land Conservancy in a delightful discussion of the Phenology Trail at Borden’s Pond. Then learn all about Anthracnose from Dede Terns-Thorpe and Jackie Hayden (Pests and Pathogens) which affects gardens and trees. This episode concludes with a discussion of Merlin (Tools of the Trade with Joan Satterlee), a bird identification app developed by Cornell University. This episode has something for everyone. Listen in!

Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas

Guest: Heidi Bock, Columbia Land Conservancy

Photo by: Tim Kennelty

Production Support from: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden


PhenologyConservancy News: March – Columbia Land Conservancy ( ; Columbia Land Conservancy ( ; Borden’s Pond – Columbia Land Conservancy (

Anthracnose (Pests and Pathogens with Dede Terns-Thorpe and Jackie Hayden): Anthracnose on tomatoes | Vegetable Pathology – Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center ( ; PM1280.pdf; Anthracnose of Flowering Dogwood ; Anthracnose Management Guidelines--UC IPM ( ; Bean Anthracnose ( ; What You Need to Know about Reading a Pesticide Label (

Merlin (Tools of the Trade with Joan Satterlee): Merlin Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology ; Merlin Bird ID app identifies more than 450 bird species by sound | Cornell Chronicle


Welcome to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Our team's goal is to present science based information about gardening and all things nature in New York's Hudson Valley. Hosts Jean and Tim, along with team members, Teresa: and Linda, are Master Gardener Volunteers for New York's Columbia and Greene counties. So if you're interested in gardening or nature or nuggets of information about what's happening outside your door, settle in, enjoy the conversation. Whatever the season, we have something to say.

Musical segue

Tim: Hi, I'm Tim Kennelty.

Jean: And I'm Jean Thomas

Tim: And welcome to another episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Our guest is Heidi Bock from the Columbia Land Conservancy.

Jean: And Heidi's discussing the Phenology Trail at Borden Ponds Public Conservation Area in Chatham, New York.

Tim: Yeah, she's going to talk all about what phenology is the study of when things bloom and when things go to seed and all that syncing up that nature does.

Jean: So the birds and the bees know when to meet each other.

Tim: Yeah, and they have a Phenology Trail, which is a great citizen science project. And they trained their volunteers on the software that they use, and the volunteers go to specific plants on the trail and record what they see. So it's a really interesting project. And then it's a great interview with Heidi.

Jean: And they're always looking for volunteers. Speaking of which Dede and Jackie are back.

Tim: Excellent. We love to have Dede and Jackie back here and they're talking about Pests and Pathogens, of course, and today they're talking about anthracnose.

Jean: That's one of the top three diseases in the whole world.

Tim: Yeah, it coal disease because the leaves get black and the plants I always think of this in terms of Cornus Florida, they common dogwood, but apparently, which I didn't know, it affects many, many different plants,

Jean: Roses and tomatoes. They catch everything.

Tim: Yeah, and all kinds of hardwoods and everything else. So they're going to tell us all about how to identify it and how to deal with it.

Jean: That's right. And when we finish hearing from them, Joan Satterlee is back. And she's got another episode of Tools of the Trade.

Tim: Yeah. And today she's going to talk about one of my favorite tools to use the Merlin Bird app. It's from Cornell's Lab of Ornithology, and it's one of those great ID apps.

Jean: And the best part about this one, because it's from Cornell, it's got the wonderful access to the audio, you can identify birds from their calls.

Tim: Yeah, that's, I think that's something new. It's like you just plug in a few things, like you can plug in the color and the size of the bird. But also now yeah, you can listen to the audio that's out there and it will help identify the bird which is just so cool.

Jean: And it's a vast resource. They've got tremendous numbers of bird calls.

Tim: Yeah, I think that should be great.

Musical segue

Tim: Hi, I'm Tim Kennelty.

Jean: And I'm Jean Thomas. Welcome to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Our conversation today is with Heidi Bock, of the Columbia Land Conservancy. Heidi is the director of land stewardship, and community partnerships. Welcome, Heidi. We've so enjoyed having you join us for your regular trekking the trails segment about what one might see while walking on land conservancy trails, we probably need to take a big step back and ask you to talk a little bit about the history, mission, and goals of the Land Conservancy.

Heidi: Sure. Thanks Tim and Jean, it's so great to be here with you today. I'd be happy to tell you a bit about the Columbia Land Conservancy. We are a nonprofit land conservation organization working primarily in Columbia County. We work with the community to conserve the farmland, forests, wildlife habitat and rural character of Columbia County, while strengthening connections between people in the land. Since our founding in 1986, we've collaborated with landowners and partners to conserve more than 30,000 acres of land, ensuring clean air and water, healthy ecosystems, a strong agricultural sector and a rich variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. Some of the ways CLC works to cultivate connections to the land is providing outdoor and educational activities at our 10 public conservation areas.

Tim: And if I can just put my two cents in, I'm on the Board of Trustees of the Land Conservancy and it's a terrific organization and I'm really proud to be part of it. I love working with Heidi. She's great. So Heidi, we understand you have a new title and role. Can you tell us a little bit about that? It's pretty recent. Right?

Heidi: It is. Yes. And Thanks, Tim. We're so grateful for your support as a board member, and I love working with you, too. So I took on this new role as Director of Land Stewardship and Community Partnerships in January. I've actually been with the land conservancy since 2006. And I've had a number of different roles over that time. But I'm really excited to take this one on as I'm overseeing the conservation easement, stewardship, public conservation area and conservation education programs. And my role in this job is to support those staff in those various program areas while growing and sustaining community partnerships, building relationships with landowners, and helping to provide and promote community wide educational and recreational programs on the public conservation areas.

Tim: So there's no sleep involved, and you don't go to sleep anymore.

Heidi: Not yet.

Jean: That's a lot. One of the reasons you're here today is to talk about a specific project that you've undertaken at the Borden Ponds Conservation area, the Phenology Trail. Okay for us neophytes tell us what phonology is and what you do on a phonology trail.

Heidi: Sure, so phonology is essentially nature's calendar. So many people observe phenology without even knowing it, especially you gardener types. I'm sure you are noticing and even marking down in a journal when different plants are in bloom, or leaves turn color in the fall. And so if you noted any of those changes in the natural world around you, that you've observed the phenomena of phonology. And what we're doing at Bordens Pond is looking at a select group of plants, mostly trees, shrubs, and herbaceous. And we're tracking those as part of a long term regional monitoring project.

Tim: I wonder gene if phenology has anything to do with bears not hibernating with my bear coming up on my deck? Do you think that has anything to do with phenology?

Jean: No, I always thought that phenology was bumps on your skull. You know, there used to be a whole science, but that's free knowledge. We really had to say that because I know there are people listening saying well, wait a minute.

Tim: And there's a word that I just learned called phenophase or phenol phase. I love love new words. And what does that mean it?

Heidi: Sure yeah, I say it as you know, phenophase. That doesn't mean it's right.

Jean: It is now, you’re the expert.

Tim: For us anyway.

Heidi: So just to go back. Technically speaking, the definition of phenology is the timing of distinct, observable stages in a plant or animals lifecycle, and how that timing may be impacted by the regional climate, local weather events or animal and plant interactions. So those distinct stages that were mentioned, those are phenophases. So for instance, when you see the first leaves of your crocus that's one phenophase. Another might be when the flower of the crocus emerges, and etc.

Tim: So something like red maple blooming would be a female face would a pollinator coming to that red maple be a phenophase?

Heidi: Not for the red maple. It might be a phenophase for that pollinate. Okay.

Tim: Okay. Okay. So it's for the distinct species that we're talking about as a phenophase.

Heidi: Exactly. So if we're, if we're monitoring the red maple, which we are at board ins, you would be looking for when the flowers emerge, when the leaves come out, when they change, and then there's a few other little ones in between that you're also looking for

Tim: But if a bumblebee was coming to that red maple, the phenophase for that Bumblebee might be emerged.

Heidi: Right. Right, where it's collecting pollen. Yep. Okay, interesting.

Jean: Okay. Now, I'm the expert in the six year olds questions. Why do scientists care?


That's a very good question. And I think it's it's not just for six year olds,

Tim: Seven year olds.

Heidi: So scientists are using this data to track patterns of change over time. And to better understand how species and ecosystems are responding to climate change. So due to climate change them flowers are emerging one to two weeks earlier than they were 10 years ago. Or, I mean, even Tim, to your point about the bear, I think that would be a phenophase, in terms of emerging for the bear, exactly. And so while some of these things don't seem like a big deal, like oh, so what the flowers are coming out a week, two weeks early, but if those pollinators that we were just talking about having emerged, then those flowers aren't gonna get pollinated. And so better understanding that is really important for how we manage different aspects, and how we can help address climate change.

Tim: And because those two organisms that we were talking about, like a bumblebee and red maple, co evolved together, they should be phased correctly, but climate change is messing that up, right basically?

Heidi: Exactly. It's messing one or the other up.

Tim: And so that's what we're trying to learn with this project?

Heidi: Yep, exactly.

Tim: So are only scientists working on this project? Or is this something that volunteers can work on too?

Heidi: This is something that that we need everybody working on. The great thing about this project is that you don't really need any special equipment, or a PhD in botany, to collect this really valuable scientific data. We will be offering training this spring and summer to learn more about it. But it is pretty simple. We're utilizing an app called Nature's Notebook to collect the data. So you would need an account with them, you would sign up online, and select Bordens Pond as your project. So a smartphone or a computer at home. You may want binoculars, especially for looking at some of these trees so you can see up to the tops. And maybe a buddy to go out with you so you can compare notes and make sure that you're seeing the same thing. And if you're helping us with Bordens, you'll probably want muck boots because the trails are pretty muddy.

Jean: I just ordered some new muck boots, oh they're gorgeous.

Jean: It's always an excuse ...

Tim: It's a good excuse to get muck boots anyway yeah.

Tim: Yeah, they're the best.

Tim: I love muck boots.

Tim: That's our commercial for muck boots today.

Jean: Well, you answered my next question was, how do I go about this because I had my little notebook already. So now I just sign up with the Nature's Notebook and ...

Tim: You need a friend that will go with you Jean. So I'm volunteering for that if you like.

Jean: Oh, thank you, thank you so much.

Heidi: So you can take your your physical notebook. And then you can also use this digital Nature's Notebook. And the great thing about the digital version is that when you're working through the questions, it kind of gives you hints as to like what you're looking for or what you're looking at. And so the distinct phenophases have some characteristics that helps you answer those questions.

Jean: So it's like an opn book test.

Heidi: Exactly.

Jean: And you get to feel really successful.

Heidi: That's right

Jean: I like it.

Tim: Is this software that was built for phenology. So it's something that you're using that was already developed for a phenology trail?

Heidi: Exactly, yeah, yeah. I had, in 2019, had taken a training to become a local phenology leader, and be able to then offer trainings for people who would like to learn more about it. And we decided to set up a trail at Bordens, which is close to our office in Chatham, and this software website, Nature's Notebook is part of the US National Phenology Network. And so that's where all of the data goes in.

Tim: And how do you actually choose the flowers and things like that that you're looking at? Do you go to Bordens and say, oh, there are red maples at board? And so that's a really good one to look at? Or how do you how do you go about doing that?

Heidi: Yeah, that's a good question. We are part of this regional network of different land conservation organizations and universities that are looking at specific species up and down the Hudson Valley. And that way, we can sort of compare the data and look at climate change within the smaller regional area. So they had a couple of species that they wanted us all to look at. And so red maples were one of them. Or we have about 15 species that we've selected. And yes, some of it was very much like, Okay, this is at Bordens and this will be an easy one to monitor.

Tim: And it's trees and perennials as well?

Heidi: Yep, trees, shrubs and herbaceous vegetation and some early like spring ephemerals. So what we tried to do is have it so that there was something blooming or something to look at during like the major phenophase.

Tim: So it's plants only though it's not, it's not ...

Heidi: It is. Nature's Notebook has a couple of campaigns, they call them that you can sort of sign on for, you know, just one year if you just want to, like have an educational component to getting people out. So they have some that are like pollinator specific. We might do one of those this year just to test it out. So like maybe looking for monarchs, because we know that they're there and using the milkweed. But yeah, these we're we're mostly looking just at herbaceous for right now. We're just starting we, we set it up last year, more officially and collect the data in the fall. And now this year, we're looking to engage volunteers.

Jean: Okay, so now I have my notebook and my muck boots, ok.

Heidi: And your buddy.

Jean: And my buddy to pull me out of the muck.

Tim: Okay to bring me lunch or something.

Jean: We bring lunch, and I go on Thursday. Okay, so now, I have specific plants I look at on that day. No, do I go back every Thursday and look at those same plants?

Heidi: That would be great. I would love that.

Tim: We're taping on Thursday, Jean, you can't, we're recording. You can't go to the phenology trail.

Heidi: You could record in the field.

Tim: There you go. I like that.

Jean: And Tim's going with me. I have my co sponsor here

Heidi: Right.

Jean: Yeah, we're good.

Tim: Heidi's a disrupter. That's what we call her. She's a disrupter.

Tim: Yeah,

Jean: I like that.

Heidi: So you would whatever day you choose to go out in the spring and fall primarily is when we're looking for volunteers because that's when the most activity in the plants is happening. Ideally, it would be once a week and you would head out you'd start at the trailhead, and head down what were the streamside trail. All of the plants that you'll be monitoring will have markers that say like this is red maple number one. And you would go into Nature's Notebook, select that, and then answer the questions.

Jean: Okay, where does all this data go?

Heidi: So it all goes into this national database that is sort of housed. And there's scientists on the other end cleaning it up, you know, in case there's like some really random data, but called the National Phenology Network. And we also are in this other project through the New York Phenology Network. And so if there's people in New York that want more information about trails that might not, you know, that might be near them, they can look and add on to those. And so all of that data is then finally housed in the US NPN, the National Phenology Network.

Jean: And it just stays there, or do they do something with it?

Heidi: Yeah, no, it can ... YOU can do something with it, if you want it to. So they have all these really cool tools on the website where you can do visualization. So you can look at maps that show the leaf out. So you can look at a map now, and it shows how far down in the south, there's already leaf out. And there's little, I don't know are they widgets. I don't know what they call them. I'm not the expert on that. Yeah. So you can select different species to look at and look at the data throughout the country. Or you can zoom in and look at just New York State. And then that way it you can use those for education purposes, if you were a student and wanted to do research on a specific species, and look how the things have changed over time. That's what a lot of scientists are doing. And then the group that were a part of, some of those scientists that work for those conservation organizations are looking at the data in the Hudson Valley.

Tim: So I'm so I'm a cynic here. And I always when people are doing research like this, it's great, because we have a lot of information. And I know it's same thing, like when we're doing like deer exclosures, and things like that. What a surprise when you have a deer exclosure you get all kinds of native plants, right? Because the deer aren't eating them. Same thing here. What a surprise, the flowers are blooming earlier, what in what do we do with that information? And it's kind of frustrating, right? Because we know that these things are happening. How is that being used by scientists?

Heidi: It's a great question. And it is a little depressing. Yeah, we know what's happening. So So what and kind of in addition to those things that you've mentioned, we we need more data. And so even though we have this, this great data set in the National Phenology Network, there's not a lot of data for Columbia County. And any that have data can help for us as a as a land trust. And that Bordens, how we manage the land. And so if we notice, we know that the invasive species leave out sooner, and we can make a plan to do an invasive species removal. And then bigger picture, though, I think it just it helps build the case that climate change is happening, we can see it happening because we're tracking this data, we see the leaf out, and then we can talk to our you know, elected officials. And...

Tim: So the more data we have, the more likely we might have funding to combat climate. Exactly. So that makes me feel better. And that's what it's all about. Jean right, me feeling better?

Jean: Absolutely.

Tim: No, I mean, it is always my question is, it's it, I always feel it's a little bit like, you know, we're fiddling on the deck of the Titanic, but what you're saying makes a lot of sense to me that the more data we have, the more likely we're going to be able to build a case to combat climate change or combat invasives or, you know, whatever, we're really our, our causes at the time.

Heidi: And I feel like this great gives a really great opportunity for those of us who aren't scientists to feel like you're contributing to something that is, you know, kind of for the greater good and, and it's fun.

Tim: So how, so if I want to have fun and do that, and if Jean, and I want to go out and do that, how do we do that? How do we sign up? Because it's, I think I do want to sign up, how do we do that?

Heidi: You would either reach out to me, send me an email, or you can go to our website, CLC And under the volunteer tab, there is a form that you fill out with your you know, all your contact information. And you can select one of the choices of types of volunteering activities we have is the Bordens Pond Phenology Trail. And we'll be offering some trainings this this spring and summer to get people out there. And we will suggest that you go onto the you know, you have to sign up, go onto the Nature's Notebook website and do a couple of the training modules that they have on there for you to get a little bit more familiar with the app. And then we'll do some trainings in the field because that's really, that's the easiest way.

Tim: Do you have any like, do you have school groups working on this? Because it seems like a great project for you know, science teachers in high school, for instance, is that something you're trying to do?

Heidi: That is our hope, Yes. We have some contacts with the Chatham School, which is the closest school to the board ends and we are talking with them about how they can utilize this trail either on their own or as part of an education program that we lead, and then just sharing what we're finding there as ways for them to sort of plug into it because one of the great things about the phenology, trail, but also just phenology in general is it helps to build your observation skills. And I think we all could use that. But especially some the kids, they don't get outside a lot. And this is a way for them to get outside and focus on something and not be super overwhelming, because it's like, okay, you got 15 stops. This is where you're going to focus. And I think what we found last fall is I've been to Bordens and I don't know how many times in the almost 16 years I've been with with the Land Conservancy, and I noticed new things last, like we were walking along, and I was like, I never noticed that. Yeah. How cool is and and so I think that's what's that? That was a surprise for me.

Tim: Well, it's I mean, we keep talking about red maples, but it's just like, it's something that I think people don't even kind of realize that it's one of the first pollinating flowers that come out there for native bees. And you'd look up then and you realize once you know that it's out there that the maples are blooming. And it's important, just as you know that invasives are coming out. I always destroy people's lives when I doubt that first thing to leave out is not a native plant.

Jean: Right? Okay, I have friends who are not excited about muck boots. Go figure shocking.

Tim: How are they? How could they be friends, soldiers,

Jean: We must be inclusive, Tim. Now I know CLC has a lot of other volunteer opportunities. You've got some other projects going on this summer that maybe my tidier friends would be interested?

Heidi: It like dries out in the summer?

Tim: Yeah, it's just you don't need muck boots dirty. Right?

Heidi: Well, we're actually it's really exciting. We're hiring to new public conservation area staff. And we're working on once we have them hired will sort of be mapping out our volunteer offerings. We will be doing some trainings, which we're excited about as, as we have new volunteers that have come on in the last couple of years for kind of, we're calling them sort of skills trainings. So it'll still be a work day. But we're going to be talking about some of the management techniques that we use on the trails and why we're doing the things that we're doing. So you can build those skills that you can then take home with you, and use on your own property. And then also help us clear up some of the trails. Check out our website, CLC

Jean: That's what I wanted to hear.

Tim: And you know what else it sounds like? Jean, it sounds like that means Heidi is to come back and talk to us when she has trainings in the future, which we're going to lure her back to come talk to us, right?

Jean: We'll even have food next time.

Tim: And you're gonna give us that phenology website, we can put it in the show notes too, because I think that sounds like something that even if people don't go out on the trail, they can go and use that data and look at when things are leaving out in their area, things like that. That sounds like a really great resource.

Heidi: And actually, you don't, you can do it at your house. You can do you can set up Nature's Notebook, you can set up a project for yourself at your house, especially if you want to just learn more about what what's going on in your backyard. And so, yeah, Nature's Notebook, we'll will share that link in the show notes.

Tim: Heidi it's always it's such a pleasure having you with us. I think we've learned so much today. I know I have we're looking forward to your next edition of Trekking the Trails and we hope you'll come back and talk to us about other volunteer opportunities and other things going on at the Land Conservancy. Thanks so much.

Heidi: Thank you so much for having me.

You're listening to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Stay tuned for Pests and Pathogens.

Dede: Good afternoon, welcome back to our segment on Pests and Pathogens. I'm Dede Terns-Thorpe and I'm here today with...

Jackie: Jackie Hayden, Master Gardener Volunteer for Columbia and Greene counties.

Dede: And today I'll be talking about anthracnose, which is a group of fungal diseases that affects trees, roses and garden crops in the Hudson Valley. The word anthracnose means coal disease and this gives you a clue as to what to look for. brown or black dead areas on leaves, stems, flowers or fruit are symptoms of the disease. Shade trees such as sycamore ash, oak, maple, elm, hickory walnut and dogwood are especially susceptible. If you think about last fall, which followed a relatively wet spring and summer in the Hudson Valley, many maple trees were affected by anthracnose that muted our typical early autumn color. In addition to trees anthracnose also targets a number of plants, including shrubs, grasses, roses and garden crops. It's interesting to note that while the symptoms are similar, the specific fungi that cause the diseases are different from host to hosts.

Jackie: How quickly do they damage plants?

Dede: Good point it can spread quickly in humid areas with cold temperatures and cause extensive damage often in less than a week. On trees and threat nose affects the buds early in the season before they have grown any leaves. When the buds die, it might look like frost injury which can make diagnosing it tricky at this stage. The symptoms are easier to identify once the trees have leafed out. Look for small, circular or irregularly shaped dark or brown dead spots on the leaves or large dead blotches along the leaf veins are in between the veins.

Jackie: But how do I know if it's back?

Dede: Well to determine whether it's sand attract nose, use a magnifying glass to look at the tips of dead twigs or on the underside of the infected leaves. If you see fungal fruiting structures that look like pimples, especially along leaf veins, the tree is dealing with the anthracnose.

Jackie: Does it overwinter?

Dede: The disease overwinters in affected branches, twigs and leaves. In the spring the wind carries the pathogens to young leaves and twigs where it forms new spores. These spores then moved by wind or water spreading to the neighboring foliage, infecting it and thus continuing the disease cycle. Cool spring weather helps to spread the disease.

Jackie: Does it kill the trees?

Dede: Anthracnose diseases tend to defoliate trees from the ground up, but mainly the foliage at the top of the trees undamaged. When a tree is heavily infected early in the season, the leaves may be distorted, shrivel and fall off prematurely. Sometimes the foliage regenerates. Mature leaves are generally resistant to infection unless the conditions are favorable. Heavily infected leaves will fall prematurely throughout the growing season and sometimes trees become completely defoliated. Despite the fact that the symptoms look serious, damage caused by anthracnose is minimal and does not seriously harm established trees. But it may weaken them making them more susceptible to environmental stress such as drought, and extreme temperatures and insect damage. On most shade trees the progress of the disease slows and becomes negligible during hot dry weather. On roses, we're dealing with a different fungus from the one that causes tree anthracnose. Here, look for small reddish purple spots or lesions on the leaf veins. As time passes the spots will develop thin brown margins. If the lesions have distinct edges, you're dealing with anthracnose. The leaves will eventually turn yellow or gray and as they wither, you'll see small holes in them before they eventually fall off. Note that rose canes in stems can also be affected. climbing roses wild and rambler roses as well as some hybrids and shrubs have been reported to be more susceptible. Remember that anthracnose thrives in humid conditions,

Jackie: Can gardeners do anything to slow the spread?

Dede: While you can't control the weather you can ensure good air circulation by leaving ample space between your rose plants as well as by regular and proper pruning. Both are ways that help the leaves dry quicker from dew and rainfall. And when watering, make sure to water only the roots and avoid getting the leaves wet in order to decrease the chance of the fungal spreading. With garden crops cucurbits and its nightshade plants can be affected by other variants of the fungus.

Jackie: Could you describe that word?

Dede: Sure, it means of the gourd family so your melons, etc., Tomato anthrax those occurs mainly on overripe fruit that tomatoes will have small circular sunken spots, often in concentric rings. As the spot grows larger they cluster together to form large blotches which may start to ooze. Cucumbers, watermelons and sometimes even pumpkins can also get anthracnose. The fungus can affect the leaves, stems, and the fruit. The symptoms vary and often resemble other foliage diseases which can make it difficult to diagnose.

Jackie: Does it help to rotate these crops?

Dede: Yes, absolutely. In this case, as with most edible plants, it's a good idea to rotate the placement of your edible crops. And as anthracnose spreads well in humid air conditions and moisture, avoid overhead watering and provide good air circulation with proper plant spacing and regular weeding.

Jackie: Can anything help with this problem?

Dede: Unfortunately, you won't be able to completely eliminate anthracnose after it enters your landscape, but following a few simple steps can help you reduce and control it spread. Sanitation is the key. Clean up your garden periodically, especially in the fall to minimize the number of spores overwintering in the soil. Dispose of any infected leaves and plant parts in the trash, not in your compost pile. You could also help to stop the spread of the disease by staying out of infected areas when the plants are wet. Don't collect or save your own seeds if anthracnose is a common problem in your region or in your garden. And make sure to disinfect garden tools FDA use them on infected plants. As soon as you notice an occurrence of anthracnose, you can consider spraying affected plants with soft sulfur or copper. Make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for frequency and dosage but bear in mind that you may need to repeat this application weekly during the entire growing season. Because anthracnose is so many different forms depending on the underlying fungus and the host plant, taking a sample of an infected plant part to your local extension office may help you get a proper diagnosis. I hope you've learned something new with this edition of Pests and Pathogens. Until next time.

You're listening to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Stay tuned for Tools of the Trade.

Joan: Hi, and welcome to Tools of the Trade, a recurring segment of this podcast that highlights a website, app or book that we Master Gardeners find to be an essential resource. I'm Joan Satterlee, a Master Gardener Volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene counties.

If you're like me, you often find yourself out in the garden when a beautiful or interesting bird flies by or lands on a nearby tree. And you say to yourself, huh? What's that bird? Well, you can run into the house and fetch your favorite field guide, or you can do like thousands of bird lovers do and pull out your smartphone to check the amazing Merlin bird identification app. There are actually quite a few bird ID apps out there but many require a paid subscription. Merlin is not only free, but it's also I think, the easiest to use, and it has the best data backing up results developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Merlin was launched in 2014. To answer the question for users What's up bird? The creators realize that searching through a massive Field Guide while figuring what to plug into a search engine was a challenging and sometimes intimidating way to identify birds, especially for beginners. While the Merlin staff is based in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology The team includes 5,000 plus birders spanning the globe, who have contributed photos and audio recordings for more than 800 million sightings to the e-Bird database.

Once you've downloaded the app onto your smartphone, it's easy to get started identifying your feathered friends. If you used Merlin in the past, you know that it asks you a few simple questions about the bird you've cited. First and probably most importantly, Merlin asks you where and when you saw the bird. Merlin defaults to the day of your sighting and saves past destinations so this part is easy. It then asks the size of the bird you saw with examples of common birds like robins and crows. Once you've selected the size, Merlin asks for the main colors of the bird. And here you can select up to three colors. So the birds you saw may be gray, green and yellow. Finally, Merlin asks you to choose from a number of activities that the bird may have been doing when you saw it, like eating at a feeder, sitting in a tree or wading in water. Once you've answered these questions, Merlin present a short list of possible species with photos and brief descriptions.

If you haven't used Merlin for a while, you might not know that the folks at Cornell Lab have added even more tools to identify and learn about the birds in your world. Merlin now also includes photo and sound identification features. Like other photo identification apps, Merlin utilizes recent vision and machine learning advances. But it also leverages the use database of images from Cornell's McCauley Library. So with the photo ID feature, you can either take a new photo of a bird, or use one you've already taken to identify the bird you saw. Another amazing new feature is Marlins sound ID. If you're wondering not which bird I'm seeing, but what bird I am hearing, Merlin can help. Just hold out your phone, tap record, and you'll get suggestions in real time. Along with recordings or suggested species you can compare to what you're hearing. If that's not enough, Merlin also allows you to save the birds you've identified making it easier to start a life list. And if you want to learn more about birds in your area, just tap the Explore Birds button and you'll get photos, descriptions and sounds of birds likely to be seen in your area at the time of year you're looking.

In short, Merlin has made it fun and easy to learn about birds near you. So get out there and start looking and listening, you're likely to learn something new. That's it for this edition of Tools of the Trade. Until next time, I'm Joan Satterlee.

Musical segue

That concludes another episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. We'd like to thank Sandra Linnell and Devin Connolly from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene counties for production support. And a special thank you to our listeners for joining us on this episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. You can find links to any of the topics mentioned in this episode at our website at Comments and suggestions for future topics may be directed to us at or on the CCE Master Gardener Volunteers of Columbia and Greene County's Facebook page. For more information about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene counties, visit our website at CCE Columbia or visit us in Hudson or in Acra. Cornell Cooperative Extension provides equal programming and employment opportunities.

Last updated June 16, 2022