Bird Stewards

Spring Cleaning Should Wait


Wait - Put Down That Rake!

spring

You may recall we recommended some very lazy gardening last fall – specifically not cleaning up leaves and trimming back dead stalks.

Well – we have the same recommendations for spring. You may be tempted to get a jump on your outside spring cleaning,
but just wait!

wheelbarrow

Shhhhh - Insects are Still Dormant!

woollybear
Pictured above, a Banded Woolly Bear (the caterpillar of the Tiger Moth) is pictured here in his winter state.
mourningcloak
This Mourning Cloak spends Canadian winters hiding under mulch piles or other safe and hidden debris.

Most insects need warmth and sun in order for their thorax to be warmed and for them to be able to fly. That’s why most insects stay sleeping under their pile of leaves or snuggled deep inside hollow dead stems. Please don’t disturb by raking or leaf blowing.

Stay in the Zone

do not cleanup too early

The Ottawa area lands somewhere between a 4-5 Garden zone, which means, you should really wait until at least the third week of April, but, if you can, you should really wait until after May 1st to start doing a deep clean. However, it’s been a particularly cold spring, why not wait a bit more? We all want to get our gardens ready for our spring planting, but holding off a bit longer before you start cutting things back and disrupting your debris and soil is just one more way you can be a good bird steward.

Caution - Birds At Work!

Birds are building nests and any old, dead vegetation makes for potential nest building material. Try to leave old, dead grasses, twigs, and stems for as long as you can. If you really need to clean things up, then try to put them in a pile off in a corner where wildlife can still access these bits.

Also, all those piles of leaves where insects are hiding is easy pickings for hungry birds who just completed their spring migration and are now busy at work building nests and watching over eggs.

This Eastern Bluebird is busy building her nest.
birds at work
(Photo by L. Dillon)

Make Like a Tree and Leave

robin with grass
The American Robin is partial to long blades of dead grass for building his nest.

By leaving old leaves and other bits you are actually helping your plants, shrubs, and trees absorb nutrients. Plus, we’re not out of the “woods” yet – and snow could still come. Those leaves and other organic debris protect your plant roots from any late cold snap.

hummingbird nest is small
This tiny hummingbird's nest can be easily overlooked.

Remember once you do get out there to keep an eye open for nests, baby animals, and other vulnerable creatures.

The birds thank you!