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Great Outdoors Challenge

Thirty years ago, Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife biologists Harold Barber and Lee Nelson performed a natural phenomenon study. They documented the months when animals migrated, flowers bloomed, wildlife were born, and other events going on in the natural world.

Turn this into a family game!
Download the below and keep track of the natural phenomenon you find each month. Tell us about some interesting finds on Facebook or Twitter. Real outdoor enthusiasts will check off all!

The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife 2017 Kentucky Afield Outdoor Calendar also features many of these phenomena, with hunting and fishing tips, nature events, and a list of every major meteor shower. Order online at, $7.50.

Download: Great Outdoors Poster

  • January
    • Squirrels born
    • Woodcock begin spring migration
    • Wintering bald eagle numbers peak in western Kentucky
    • Canada goose numbers peak in western Kentucky
  • February
    • Winter turkey flocks reach highest numbers
    • Great horned owls begin incubating eggs
    • Woodcock begin singing and courtship flights
    • Opossums born
    • Wood frogs breed during the first warm rain following a hard January freeze
    • Wood ducks look for nest sites
  • March
    • Chorus frogs call on warm afternoons
    • Garter snakes emerge from hibernation and bask on sunny afternoons
    • Groundhogs graze along grassy roadsides
    • Snow trillium blooms in Bluegrass region
    • Turkeys begin gobbling
    • Ospreys begin nesting
    • Great blue herons incubate eggs
  • April
    • Morel mushrooms fruiting in woodlands
    • Male quail set up territories and begin calling
    • Coyotes and bobcats born
    • Spring broods of luna moths appear
    • Redbuds and dogwoods bloom
    • Raccoons born
    • Large-flower trillium bloom on wooded slopes
    • Turkey hens incubate eggs
    • Wood duck eggs hatch
  • May
    • Largemouth bass spawn
    • Pink/yellow lady’s slippers bloom
    • Peak of spring warbler migration
    • Bluegill spawn
    • Skunks born
    • Gray bats give birth in remote caves
    • Kentucky darters at peak breeding colors
    • Channel catfish spawn
  • June
    • Deer fawns born
    • Mountain laurel blooms
    • Endangered least terns nest on Mississippi and Ohio river sand bars
    • Red azaleas and purple fringed orchids bloom on Black Mountain
    • Box turtles lay eggs
    • Beavers born
    • Rhododendrons bloom in deep hemlock ravines
    • Hellgrammites change into dobsonflies
  • July
    • American lotus and water lilies bloom in swamps and ponds
    • Yellow-fringed orchids bloom on crest of Pine Mountain
    • Gray fox pups begin hunting for themselves
    • Fox squirrels have second litters
    • Goldfinches begin building nests
    • Hummingbirds mate and nest
    • Black racers, king and rat snakes lay eggs
    • Quail hatch peaks
    • Blackberries peak
  • August
    • Summer wildflowers are at the best in prairie remnants, barrens, and glades
    • Late rabbit clutches still showing up
    • Garter snakes and water snakes begin to bear broods
  • September
    • Second litter of gray squirrels born
    • Grouse broods disperse
    • Indiana bats begin courtship flights at Carter Caves State Resort Park
    • Grouse begin drumming
    • Woodcock migrate through Kentucky
    • Early migratory geese arrive in western Kentucky
    • Deer shed velvet from antlers
  • October
    • Fall leaf color typically peaks in late October
    • Snakes begin moving to hibernation sites
    • Chimney swifts migrate south for the winter
    • Bald eagles begin moving into Kentucky for the winter
    • Peak of fall mallard migration
    • Persimmons ripen after first good frost
  • November
    • Peak of deer rut
    • Sandhill cranes begin flying over
    • Woodcock fall migration peaks
    • Fill birdfeeders for the winter
    • Waterfowl move into state
  • December
    • Young turkey gobblers leave family groups to form own flocks
    • Deer begin dropping antlers



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