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May Nature Notes

posted on 5/5/23

May Nature Notes

Big News – the Jungle Birds are Moving In!

If you woke this morning to the sounds of Baltimore Orioles, they are currently arriving in Marion County, along with the hummingbirds and the numerous warblers, grosbeaks, buntings, and the list goes on. WOW! We are amid an A-ma-zing event occurring right now! According to BirdCast (live bird migration forecast maps), over 400 million birds will be migrating into the U.S. this evening, May 5. These birds will be using the light of the moon to move northward. BirdCast uses real-time analysis maps that show intensities of actual nocturnal bird migration as detected by the US weather surveillance radar network between local sunset to sunrise. The exact time of writing this is 9:07 a.m. ET, there are currently over 26 million birds in flight.  https://birdcast.info/migration-tools/live-migration-maps/   Watch for colorful warblers, tanagers, flycatchers, buntings, cuckoos, gnatcatchers, chimney swifts, common nighthawks, bobolinks, dickcissels, A. redstarts, cuckoos, and many, many more.

May’s full moon, The Flower Moon, is today, May 5.

Saturday, May 13, 2023 is World Migratory Bird Day.

Friday, May 19 is National Endangered Species Day. It’s a good time to celebrate, learn about, and take action to protect threatened and endangered species!

Migrant monarch butterflies should be trickling through Iowa and laying eggs along the way. Other butterflies to watch for are meadow fritillary, cabbage white, question mark, red admiral, tiger swallowtail, spring azure, and mourning cloak. May is a great month for butterflies.

May is “wetland month”: The water warms, the underwater insects are flourishing, and some are ready to become airborne. Beaver kits are growing, wood ducks will be out with their young, Canada goslings are swimming with their parents, and dragonflies and damsels are beginning to make their appearance around the area. Salamander nymphs are hatching and growing legs, donning feathery gills under the water. Painted and snapping turtle eggs will continue to hatch. Watch this month for adult turtles migrating from bodies of water to land areas to lay eggs now and will continue into the first part of June.

Bats are the only true mammal fliers and many of our migrating bats will return this month. To name a few; the forest dwelling Eastern red bat, Hoary bat, and the Silver-haired bat.

The forest spring wildflowers are still bursting away. They must come up, bloom, and go to seed before the tree canopy fills in. These understory plants are some of the last to bloom and will be flourishing; Solomon’s seal, false Solomon’s seal, wild geranium, jack-in-the-pulpit, green dragons, mayapple, showy orchis, and large twayblade orchids. Maidenhair fern doesn’t bloom but makes a most beautiful presence along some woodland creeks. The buckeye trees and tulip trees will be blooming soon. The fragrant basswood blooms have a beautiful scent that travels hundreds of feet away. Take a moment to inhale the sweet fragrance of the woodlands.

The end of May is considered peak songbird nesting time.

As the late Spring season unfolds, the morels, dryads saddle, oysters and a few other edibles can be found.

May is such a great month for discovery– Happy earth walking!