Breaking News
More () »

No Mow May means less yardwork but spells big boost for birds and pollinators

Naturalist Dan Gardoqui shares tips for doing more by doing less to help migrating and breeding birds this spring.

YORK, Maine — If it's louder than usual in your neck of the woods, there's a reason. It's spring migration season. Billions of birds are migrating north, and their calls are filling the air. 

Every spring, an estimated 3.5 billion birds migrate back into the United States from their southern wintering grounds, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 

According to naturalist and educator Dan Gardoqui of Lead with Nature, roughly 150,000 birds are migrating to Maine each night. 

Most songbirds migrate at night when there is typically less wind, cooler temperatures, and few predators. This means come morning, birds are busy looking for food and filling the air song.  

To Gardoqui's well-trained ear, listening to the sounds of the morning tells him all he needs to know about the birds in the area. Many will nest and breed in Maine, but many others are just passing through to more northern points in Canada. 

Gardoqui showed 207 around the grounds of Clay Hill Farm, the first restaurant in the U.S. to be a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Around the trails of the restaurant are more than 100 birdhouses many of which were donated by staff, brides and grooms, and fans of the Cape Neddick eatery. 

Gardoqui said there are many things Mainers can do to help migrating birds and pollinators including a conservation effort called No Mow May.

"Go easy on the lawn for a month. Let it get taller. Let it grow. It'll be better for water conservation, it's better for habitat for insects and invertebrates, and things are just getting going in the spring," Gardoqui recommended. 

Birdhouses, bat houses, even bee houses are all good things to do, according to Gardoqui, but he suggested sanitizing birdhouses and feeders to prevent the spread of disease. 

If you have a cat, Gardoqui said keep them indoors. 

"Cats are responsible for somewhere over 2 billion bird deaths a year in the U.S., and closer to 10 million mammal deaths, and I know you can't help it. Cats are really good at killing things. ... So if you have a cat keep them inside," Gardoqui said. 

He also recommended holding off on having any tree work done in your yard until fall. 

"If you don't have to disturb these nest this time of year, please don't," Gardoqui said. 

Another tip, if you see a baby bird on the ground, Gardoqui said unless the bird is under direct threat, try not to intervene. Bird parents are really good at fixing problems, and often the bird is on the ground for a reason. 

Spring migration in Maine got underway in early February and continues until the end of May. But for Gardoqui and many other birders, it is a magical time of year. 

"There's this beautiful chorus of song that is just slowly moving from the beginning of the day around the globe. If you've never done it, go outside an hour before sunrise and just listen. It's pretty remarkable," Gardoqui said.