Learn, Participate, Conserve
Thanks to the keen eye of a very observant birder, we were able to snap a rare pic of this male yellow warbler sitting on a nest. Males don't usually incubate the eggs, but will help build the nest and provide food during incubation. This male sat on the nest for long periods of time, so he certainly appeared to be helping to incubate eggs. Hard to say if that's what was happening, but a very cool find!
Some days you just need a ditch day, think Ferris Bueller. The sun is finally shining and birding was a must today! Migration is in full gear, so warblers are EVERYWHERE. A particularly special treat today was the rare appearance of a black billed cuckoo. These are truly elusive birds, so to see one in the open is a treat. This one must have known it was a hooky day and made it worth our while!
We're redesigning our Lakes SOS app icon (below), which is still being tweaked. We're also working on quick ID slides for invasive carp. A very exciting day at Naturedigger! Expect an update in the next couple of weeks!
May = Migration!
May is easily one of the most exciting times of the year! Grab your binoculars, because birds are on the move and everywhere this month. They’re migrating to their northern breeding grounds, and if you seek them out, you will find them! Expect to see songbirds, hummingbirds, birds of prey as well as plenty of waterfowl during this mass migration. If you’re a beginner and would like to get in on some migration action, check out your local Audubon Center for guided tours. You may also see birding opportunities in newspapers or on websites of watershed associations, conservation commissions or other local groups. Hop onto a local birding listserv to see what cool birds are coming through your area. It’s always an adventure, because you never know what you’re going to see!
Other Cool May Migrants
May is Invasive Species Awareness Month!
We usually offer a monthly Invasive Species Spotlight, and go into detail about one particularly awful species, however, since May is “Invasive Species Awareness Month,” we are covering invasive species in general.
Invasive species come in many shapes and sizes and encroach in every type of habitat, especially if it is disturbed. It’s important to ensure anything you plant in your garden (or water garden) is native to your region. Many invasive plants are introduced from garden centers and escape into our natural landscape. Some are introduced to solve a problem like erosion, but become a much bigger problem, like kudzu and Japanese knotweed. Others are introduced by ballast water of ships. These invasive species then become established and outcompete our native species, often creating single species (monotypic) communities. It’s all about diversity, and loss of diversity means loss of native species. Unfortunately, humans spread most of these species. Plants often seem to steal the spotlight, but they aren’t our only concern. Animals, such as zebra mussels and Asian clams can completely destroy a waterbody, and aquarium animals that have been set free, such as lionfish, can threaten delicate ecosystems. Always return any unwanted aquarium animas (and plants) to a pet store, or rehome them, rather than dumping them into a river, lake or ocean. If you frequent waterbodies, please scroll down to our Clean, Drain and Dry article and learn how to avoid spreading invasive species either by your boat or your fishing tackle.
Clean, Drain & Dry!
If you are a boat owner or angler, you are responsible for keeping your vessel or tackle free from invasive species, to avoid transporting them to another waterbody. Always remember: Clean, Drain and Dry! It is now the law in many states and you could be fined if you knowingly spread an invasive species.
1) Clean: This part of the process includes thoroughly cleaning everything that enters the water.
2) Drain: Once you’re upland, far from the launch, and are no longer a threat to any other waterbody, drain all water from your boat including live wells, ballast tanks, bait buckets, the bilge and the motor. This will ensure that even the tiniest fragments or larvae are flushed from your boat before you enter another waterbody. Keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft
3) Dry: First wash your boat thoroughly with a pressure washer, if possible use hot water (140 degrees is recommended). Do not use bleach. Hand dry the boat, and then dry it for at least 5 days to a week before entering any waterbody. If you have been in a waterbody with zebra or quagga mussels or Asian clams, it is best to have your boat professionally cleaned.
• Dispose of unwanted bait, worms and fish parts in the trash, and empty bait buckets containing water far from waterbodies.
These may seem like extreme measures, but if you’ve ever visited a lake that can longer be used by anglers, swimmers or boaters, and property values have plummeted due to an invasive species infestation, you understand why it is vitally important to do our part to keep waterbodies free from invasive plants and animals.
Our Horseshoe SOS app has been updated and is now available for those of you hoping to learn more about these amazing animals or even become involved in reporting tagged crabs along the Atlantic Coast. If you're a beach walker, you can use Horseshoe SOS to report horseshoe crabs you spot with a white, round US Fish and Wildlife service tag, just by opening the app and choosing the Report Tag button at the bottom of the main navigation page. NOTE: please use the reporting form, not the telephone number on the tag to report sightings.
This update includes new FAQ and Research sections as well as separate sections covering the other three Asian species of horseshoe crabs. Valuable input, information, new programs and photographs were contributed by ERDG in this version. Many thanks to Glenn and Ariane for all of their assistance! Please download Horseshoe SOS and let us know what you think by using the Feedback email in the slide-out menu of the app. We look forward to your comments!
Wherever you are on this Earth Day, whether it be at a coastal cleanup or at a March for Science somewhere across the globe, we hope you are recognizing the amazing progress we've made in environmental protection (thanks to scientists) over the past 5 decades.
Here's to moving forward and supporting the important work of scientists who are responsible for improving air and water quality, working toward endangered species protection, protecting basic human health, and of course, advancing our knowledge of climate change. We need to support and believe in science despite the views of the current administration. We can only hope they hear our voices on this historic day.