May is a month bursting with life. Spring is in full swing and woodland wildlife havens are a hive of activity. From the understorey to the canopy, trees and plants are blooming and all manner of mammals, birds, insects and reptiles are arriving, breeding, playing and feeding. Here's what's happening in the world of woodland wildlife this month.

Flowers blooming

Some trees and plants are already showing off their full spring dress, including swathes of bluebells across some woodland floors. You’ll likely spot some species’ first tender petals just opening too, including dog rose, elder, hawthorn, lilac, rowan and ox-eye daisy.

Top tip

These wildlife activities aren't all confined to woodland - keep your eyes peeled in local parks, street trees and your own garden.

An abundance of bird life

May brings a flurry of feathers as flocks of migratory birds descend on the UK from abroad to raise their young in our more favourable conditions. Look and listen for the first appearances of blackcap, cuckoo, nightingale, spotted flycatcher, swift and more.

Some resident birds are already well on their way to rearing a new brood, with many blue tits and great tits starting to feed their young this month and juvenile blackbirds leaving the nest for the first time.

Mating season

Migratory birds aren't the only wildlife focused on breeding this month. Hedgehog males attempt to woo a mate by circling the female and making loud snuffling and grunting noises – you may see or hear this behaviour in your neighbourhood as well as woodland.

Much more quietly, sleek and subtle slow worms start mating in May too. These legless lizards are common in our woods – look out for them basking in sunny spots.

Top tip

Some species are famously elusive, so keep your eyes and ears open for clues including calls, footprints, scat, fur and feathers. Our poos and clues swatch book might help!

Cubs and kits venture outside

A variety of woodland mammals are already raising their young. Most fox cubs have now been born and will be playing outside the den, especially around dawn and dusk. Adults are more active as they hunt for extra food to satisfy the youngsters. Badger cubs, now around three to four months old, begin exploring and playing outside the sett.

Pine marten kits tend to take their first venture outside the den too, having been born in March or April. And red squirrels will be starting to breed again as their first kits leave the drey to build homes of their own. Tread quietly and you may even spot a newborn roe deer hiding among the shrubs.

Insects on the wing

May's warmer, lighter days are inundated with insects. Watch for early damselflies and dragonflies close to woodland ponds and streams, and a variety of bees gorging on spring pollen and nectar. Butterflies emerging for the first time this month include comma, holly blue, orange tip, red admiral, small white and speckled wood.

Add your wildlife sightings to Nature’s Calendar

The Nature’s Calendar project tracks the effects of weather and climate change on wildlife across the UK – its records date all the way back to 1736! We monitor 150 events for the project, including many of May’s woodland wildlife activities.

Join Nature’s Calendar to record your sightings – every record helps us better understand how weather and climate change are affecting our wildlife. By taking just a few minutes to share what you see, you'll be adding to hundreds of years' worth of important data. We couldn't do this work without you!

Spot the changing seasons

Have you seen the first ladybird of the year or the last swallow of summer? Tell us about the nature near you and help scientists track the effects of climate change on wildlife.

Take part in our Nature's Calendar survey