May 1 - 10

 

Racine has 14 hours and 27 minutes of daylight and Superior has 14 hours and 50 minutes of daylight at the end of the period. Southern Wisconsin gains 24 minutes of daylight and northern Wisconsin has 28 minutes more than the previous period.  The full moon for 2015 falls on May 3. Names for this full moon are Hare, Budding, Milk, or Blossom depending on different cultural traditions.

 

Start of Maximum daylight season: The halfway point between a solstice and equinox is called a cross-quarter day. These days have held great significance to pagan religions and to very early Christian church beliefs. These cross-quarter days are celebrated throughout the world with the cross-quarter day for spring being celebrated on May 1 or May Day. Pagan religions call this day Beltane. The actual date for cross-quarter in 2015 is May 5. From now through early August, Wisconsin experiences the quarter of the year with the most sunlight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black saddlebags: Black saddlebags are dragonflies, which definitely migrate, traveling south along the Lake Michigan shoreline each fall with green darner dragonflies. They return in spring at much lower numbers and on a much broader front. They can usually be seen in quiet shallows of a lake or a pond where fish are absent.  Males patrol territories, flying and hovering over areas as large as several thousand square feet. Mating occurs in the treetops. These dragonflies and their first cousins, red saddlebags are easy to identify with black near the base of the wings in very clear outer portions of the wings. The red saddlebags have red in the same area, thus the different color name, but same saddlebags name.

 

Olympia marble: The Olympia marble is a small butterfly with a wingspan of approximately 1 ¼ inches. It is essentially white with a few black markings on the four wings. This species only appears in spring and never flies for more than a week or two at any one locality. It is essentially restricted to areas with rock cress, its larval food plant. Olympia marbles can feed on several species of rock cress of the Arabis genus. All of these larval food plants are delicate forms without much biomass. Therefore, the larval size depends on the size of the larval plant upon which it is feeding. Olympia marbles flourish best in sandy, rocky, or dune areas where these Arabis species thrive.

 

Morel mushrooms: A folklore and tradition surrounding these mushrooms has been established in Wisconsin as well as many other places. The primary reason is because morels taste heavenly. They are so prized that people will plan their vacations around morel season. Prices ranging from ten to fifteen dollars a pound also reflect the mushroom’s value. Communities such as Muscoda have annual celebrations planned around this bounty. In addition to morels edible values, the hunt is also addictive.

 

Morels grow anywhere there are trees. The ground around recently deceased elms tends to be a favorite search location, which is many times is very fruitful. However, elms are gone in many places, but morels persist. Morels also grow in old apple orchards, sandy river bottoms, under aspen, oak, beech, maple, cottonwood or cherry trees. They also pop up on land that was burned the previous year.

 

A morel collector must know what he or she is looking for. In fact, there are several species of morel in the state. But don’t get confused with false morels, because they can be poisonous. Experienced morel hunters easily can tell the difference. Most morel hunters are unaware there are more than one species in the state. Black morels are found a little farther north scattered under hardwoods and conifers. Gray morels are found on the ground in open grasslands. Yellow morels, (the most common species), is found in scattered groups on the ground of open woods, orchards, grassy areas and floodplains. The half free morel is found on the ground in open woodland’s. There are also a few other species of morels in the state that observers should look for.

 

Gray rat snake: Up until recently this species was called the black rat snake. It has been changed to a new common name the gray rat snake. This species is especially numerous in Wyalusing State Park. It is a favorite of reptile lovers, because it is the only arboreal snake species in the state. Early May is a great time to search for this species along the trails and near the buildings at Wyalusing. These gray rat snakes are constructors and great consumers of rodents and other small mammals. Also, with their arboreal habitat, they consume birds as well as bird eggs. They are big snakes reaching nearly 6 feet in length. Gray rat snakes are long and muscular snake with a background color that is dark brown to black, scales may be flecked with white, yellow or orange between the scales. Red and yellow spots mark the dark gray underside.

 

Early May wildflowers: April showers bring May flowers. May is the peak time to visit rich woodlands. The spring floral display reaches its peak intensity with a few early bloomers still hanging on and the earliest bloomers from later in the month just starting to show. Prairie and barrens areas should not be overlooked, as several interest species bloom in May. The following table indicates some of the more common species to be expected on your ventures.

 

Table 1. Native Wildflowers with peak blooming times May 1 - 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paddlefish: Wisconsin’s paddlefish are mostly limited to small populations in the St. Croix, Mississippi, lower Wisconsin, and lower Chippewa Rivers. There are occasional reports from other water bodies. Paddlefish occur in open waters of large rivers and river lakes such as Lake Pepin and Lake St. Croix, oxbow lakes, and backwaters. In the Mississippi River, they have been associated with areas of deep-water and low current. Paddlefish need waters rich in zooplankton, on which they feed, and free-flowing rivers with gravel bars that are inundated in spring floods for spawning.

 

Paddlefish are one of the few true large river species found in Wisconsin. Spawning occurs each spring over gravel bars in temporarily flooded tributaries when water temperatures reach 50°. At this time of year, a naturalist can occasionally glimpse these spectacular fish with their catfish like bodies in a long snout. They should be looked for especially in reliable spots for spawning such as below the dam at Prairie du sac. Paddle fish are filter feeders, swimming with their mouths open passing water over their gills to grab zooplankton in their gill rakers. They are seldom caught on hook and line, since they feed on plankton.

 

Blue Jay: The ubiquitous and well-known Blue Jay conducts substantial migrations in Wisconsin. This fact is a mystery to most nature observers in the state. They are seen year-round in most areas, but why do some migrate, while others do not? Some Jays are present throughout the winter in all parts of the state. No one knows for sure which Blue Jays move on, which ones stay put or why. Many adults do migrate as well as young. Some adults may migrate one year, stay north the next winter, and then migrate south again the next year. Many people who feed birds in their backyard may be seeing one population of Blue Jays in the winter and in an entirely different population of jays in the summer.

 

While conducting spring hawk migration counts in the mid-1970s, I observed several thousand Blue Jays moving north during early May from my bluff-top vantage point. This experience should be shared with others. Encourage observers to visit bluff-top locations in early May and simply relax and watch the Blue Jays course past your location.

 

Bird migration: Early May is the start of peak warbler migration. Canada Geese may be on the nest or already have cygnets in tow. American Robins are usually feeding young in early May. Bird song has been around, since Northern Cardinals start singing in January. These events are just a prelude to the main show. Millions of warblers, flycatchers, vireos, and sparrows are on their way to the Northwoods and Canada. Hosts of favorite nesting birds such as orioles, tanagers, and grosbeaks are arriving on their breeding territories from farther south.

 

Early May is the peak time for observing. In most years, the leaves have not yet fully developed. The arriving birds are more predictable, because they flew in from South America or the Caribbean, which means they used sun clues rather than local weather patterns to make decision on when to migrate. The easy of find birds in near leafless trees and their predictability makes early May a supreme time to go bird watching. The following table highlights the species reaching their peak migration numbers during this period.

 

Table 2. Migrant bird species with peak movement, May 1 – 10, location and habitat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tidbits:

  • Hendrickson mayflies hatch along the Bois Brule River.

  • Spruce Grouse courtship reaches its peak.

  • In far Southwest Wisconsin, look for Northern Bobwhite courtship activities as they can scurry about the roadways.

  • Timber wolf pups can be seen.

  • White birch pollen dangles from the branches. This tasty food source is utilized by many migrating birds and bees.

  • American toad trills reach peak intensity in southern Wisconsin.

  • Fox snake and milk snake emerge from their winter hibernation locations and can be seen throughout the woods.

  • Early May is usually the time when they first Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly is seen.

  • In the pine barrens and pine forest areas of the state, look for the diminutive pine elfin butterfly flitting amongst the heaths.

  • Early May is when most of the state can find Eastern tailed blue butterflies in their fresh spring plumage.

  • American painted lady butterflies reach their peak abundance in southern Wisconsin during this time.

  • Moth species to be looked for at this time of the year are: spring cankerworm, fall cankerworm, the infant, locust underwing, and grapevine epimenis.

  • Listen for the first chirps of the spring cricket.

  • Yellow-winged locusts reach their spring peak in early May.

  • Naturalist should keep their eye open for any signs of the American carrion beetle in May. This species is extremely rare and any locations should be reported to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

  • Around logs and within the debris of conifer forest in the north, look for wolf spiders that over wintered as adults. They are ground dwellers that do not build webs, but active pursue and capture prey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Name

Downy yellow violet

Wood anemone

Sessile bellwort

Large-flowered bellwort

Jacob's ladder

Jack-in-the-pulpit

Prairie trillium

Blue wood phlox

Wild strawberry

Prairie smoke

Bird's-foot violet

Blue marsh violet

Canada white violet

Rose twisted stalk

Blue cohosh

Swamp buttercup

Wild ginger

Pussytoes

Watercress

Cuckoo flower

Prairie dandelion

Cut-leaved toothwort

Carolina spring beauty

Barrens Strawberry

Golden ragwort

False mermaid

Spreading chervil

Mead's sedge

Habitat

Woodlands

Woodlands

Dry to moist woods

Dry to moist woods

Rich woods

Dry to moist woods

Far south woodlands

Woodlands

Old fields, prairies, barrens

Dry & sand prairies

Dry & sand prairies, barrens

Swamps, floodplains

Pine forest, northern swamps

Pine forest

Rich woods

Swamps, floodplains

Rich woods

Dry & sand prairies, barrens

Springs

Wet prairies, swamps

Dry prairies

Dry to moist woods

Moist northern forest

Pine forest and barrens

Sandy prairies

Rare in rich southern woods

Floodplains in the far south

Dry prairies

 

Species

American Bittern

Common Moorhen

Lesser Yellowlegs

Solitary Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Wilson's Phalarope

Caspian Tern

Forster's Tern

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Least Flycatcher

Wood Thrush

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher

Blue-headed Vireo

Yellow-throated Vireo

Blue-winged Warbler

Golden-winged Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Pine Warbler

Palm Warbler

Northern Waterthrush

Common Yellowthroat

Hooded Warbler

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Lark Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Bobolink

Northern Oriole

 

Habitat

Marshes

Marshes

Flooded grassy areas

Slow stream edges

Short grass

Mudflats/upland short grass

Mudflats/upland short grass

open water/beaches

Marshes

Woods especially oaks

Mid story in woods 

On the ground in woods

Shrubby areas

Shrubby areas

mid story in woods 

Woods canopy, especially oak

Shrubby areas

Shrubby areas

Low dense shrubs

Woods and swamps

Wet shrubby areas

Woods canopy

Older pine forest

Low dense shrubs

Near standing water

Wet shrubs and marshes

Dense shrubs within woods

Woods, gardens, feeders

Sand prairies

Short grass

Woods, gardens, feeders

Short grass

Woods, gardens, feeders

 

Location

South half of state

Horicon Marsh

Statewide

Statewide

Seldom seen in migration

Statewide

East central Wisconsin

Lake Michigan

East central Wisconsin

Statewide

Statewide

More common south

Statewide

Statewide

Statewide

More common south

South half of state

Statewide

Statewide

Most common in floodplains

Statewide

Statewide

Statewide

Statewide

Statewide

Statewide

Southeast Wisconsin

Statewide

Large river terraces

Statewide

Statewide

Statewide

Statewide