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!
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 marine 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.