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Poor Will's Almanack: August  23 - 29, 2022

Summer Sunset Hinckley, Ohio
Flickr Creative Commons

Poor Will’s Almanack for the third week of Late Summer, the first week of the Starling Murmuration Moon, the first week of the Sun in Virgo. 

The dark Soaring Swallow Moon becomes the Starling Murmuration Moon on August 27. Rising in the morning and setting in the evening, this moon passes overhead in the middle of the day.

Under the changing moons, the night sky moves closer to its autumn configuration. Now Libra has moved deep into the west by 11:00 p.m., with Scorpio following close behind along the horizon. The Northern Cross (or Cygnus the Swan) has traveled directly overhead and will tell the time of year throughout the fall. Before sunrise, Orion fills the southern sky, forecasting winter.

On Earth, the Judas trees (that turn colors early) often show patches of bright orange in the otherwise solid green of maples. This is the week that elms, box elders, and catalpas start to wear thin, and showers of black walnut leaves foretell September.

Buckeye trees are browning under the high canopy. Scarlet has appeared in the sumac, Virginia creeper and poison ivy. Redbuds and cottonwoods can be yellowing from the heat.

The high wires fill with birds as migrations accelerate. Flickers, red-headed woodpeckers, red-winged blackbirds, house wrens, Eastern bluebirds and robins move south. Flocks of starlings (called murmurations) swoop above the fields.

Puffball mushroom hunting season begins if the nights are cool and wet enough. Summer apples are almost all picked. The best of hickory nutting season begins as sweet corn grows old.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of Late Summer. In the meantime, watch for birds gathering on the high wires along the highways, an easy sign of autumn's approach.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.