Nature Almanac for December 2021

white_pine_needles Eastern White Pine Needles (Pinus strobus)

Here in Philadelphia…

I removed yet another paper wasp nest from the ceiling of my front porch. Two squirrels died on my property in October, birds nest in the eves, squirrels shimmy up my window screens on the way to neighbor’s roof.

I shudder to think what they are doing up there. I hope they are just drinking water from the rain gutters. But I think they have built a nest up there. I put a Perky Pet bird waterer up in the backyard mainly for the squirrels. I want to stop them digging in my vegetable beds pretending to bury nuts. They do this to distract other squirrels from their hoards. See the post, Storing Food for the Winter (How to Hoard).

I wonder if any of the other neighbors on my street have as much animal activity as I do? I know one neighbor battles the squirrels. But I think the squirrels harass him because he harasses them by throwing water bottles refilled with frozen water at them. Go squirrels! What are Ground Squirrels?

Another of my neighbors, just contracted a tree service to cut done three of the tall trees next to his house. They are large forest trees, without the group protection of other trees. They are two close to his house. I will miss them.

I planted a much shorter understory tree at the end of my backyard.  The Shadbush tops out at about 25′ tall. It is a much safer tree for close urban neighborhoods. See Native Street Trees for Philadelphia and the MidAtlantic

I have been admiring the beautiful golden autumn leaves of the Catalpa tree since I was a child. There are just a few leafy nests in the over 100’ tall trees. The squirrels have long since vacated the tree. I hope I am not home to hear the buzzing of the chainsaws. I hate hearing the sound. It just goes right through me and saddens my spirit.

The photos in this issue are some of my autumn photos taken this November.

golden autumn leaf golden autumn leaf

Did You Know?

…that flat maps distort the true size and area of land masses? On a flat map, land near the pole (North and South) are depicted much larger than they actually are? And land masses near the equator much smaller.

Saudi Arabia has more area than France, Spain Germany, Poland, and Italy put together.

Africa is bigger than you think. China, India, the contiguous United States, and most of Europe can fit in the continent of Africa.  

See illustrations and the articles.

Why Do Western Maps Shrink Africa?

Africa Is Way Bigger Than You Think on

Winter’s Key Happenings

Winter Solstice December 21, 2021 at  10:59 a.m. EST

Spring Equinox – March 20, 2022 at 11:33 a.m. EDT

Winter last 89 days, 0 hours until the Spring Equinox

In the Sky This Month:

Total Eclipse of the Sun, December 4th, 2021 – This eclipse is not visible from North America. It can be seen from the Falkland Islands, the southern tip of Africa, Antarctica, and southeastern-most Australia.

December’s moon is called the Cold or Long Nights Moon.

  • New Long Nights Moon – December 4th
  • First Quarter Long Nights Moon – December 10th
  • Full Long Nights Moon – December 18th, high in the sky at midnight
  • Last Quarter Long Nights Moon – December 26th

“The Moon’s path across the sky changes with the seasons. Full Moons are very High in the sky (at midnight) between November and February (winter) and very low in the sky between May and July” – The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2021, p. 102

  • New moon always rises near sunrise
  • First Quarter near noon
  • Full Moon always rises near sunset
  • Winter Full Moons are high in the sky
  • Last Quarter near midnight
  • Moonrise occurs about 50 minutes later each day
  • Midnight Sun At the South Pole – the Sun never sets from September 23rd to March 20th,

Stars in the Winter Sky

Circumpolar Constellations – from latitude 40 degree north – these constellations are always in the sky: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia, Draco, Cepheus, and Camelopaedalis.

Winter Constellations

in the Northern Evening Sky: Pegasus, Lacerta, Andromeda, Pisces, Triangulum, Aries, Perseus, Auriga, Gemini, and Cancer.

In the Southern Evening Sky: Cetus, Taurus, Orion, the Pleiades Eridanus, Lepus, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Gemini, Hydra, and Monocerces.

The Sky This Month on

Past Nature Almanacs

Nature Almanac for November 2021

Nature Almanac for December 2020

white pine needles up close white pine needles up close

Winter Birding

Winter Birding: How to Master It

Winter Bird Migration and Irruptions

A Winter Bird Feeding Guide: Attract Birds to Your Backyard (with video)

Animals in Winter

How Can Moose Stand in Snow and their Feet Not Freeze?


Storing Food for Winter (How to Hoard)

Studying Winter twigs

wild chanterelle mushrooms wild chanterelle mushrooms before I dehydrate them

Land and Weather Observations

Winter Weather Terms

Nature Study and Nature Journaling Activities

Keeping a Keeping a Winter Nature Journal and Prompts

Nature Almanac for November 2021

Nature Almanac for December 2020

Citizen Science Events to Participate In

Journey North

Project FeederWatch

Christmas Bird Count

That’s it for this issue. Look for the next issue at the end of January.

If you have a comment or suggestion, as always leave a comment below.

Happy Nature Journaling!


  1. “December’s moon is call the Cold or Long Nights Moon.”

    I love the descriptive names humans give La Luna. Here’s a slight alteration:

    “December’s moon is called the Cold or Donna L. Long Nights Moon.”

    Would that be so wrong?

    • Hi, Sherry – that’s funny. The Long Family would love to have a moon named for them. My aunts would think it is only natural.

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