Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Importance of Dead Trees

"How is a Dead Tree Good?

Snag Facts With Impacts

** Over five hundred species of birds, three hundred species of mammals, four hundred species of amphibians and reptiles and nearly all fish benefit from snags for food, nesting or shelter.

** Only thirty bird species are capable of making their own nest cavities in trees. Another eighty animal species depend upon previously excavated or natural tree holes for their nests.

** The insulation of a tree trunk home allows many animal species to survive high summer and low winter temperature extremes.

** Tree cavities and loose bark are used by many animals to store their food supplies.

** Insects living in dead wood eat thousands of forest pests which can harm living trees.

** Fish and amphibians hide under trees that have fallen into the water.

** Woodpeckers and creepers feast on the wood-eating insects and provide "sawdust" for ants to process. Deer eat the lichen growing on the trunks.

** Standing dead trees, called snags, provide birds and mammals with shelter to raise young and raptors with unobstructed vantage points.

Cavity Nesters

Primary cavity nesters - Animals in this group can construct or make their own holes in snags. Examples include woodpeckers and nuthatches. Some primary cavity nesters excavate more than one hole annually. Many of these cavities are subsequently used by other wildlife.

Secondary cavity nesters - Animals in this group utilize old abandoned holes which were excavated by primary cavity nesters. Secondary cavity nesters include bluebirds, swallows. small owls, kesterels, and several flycatchers. These animals are dependent upon primary cavity nesters to provide them with suitable nesting holes from year to year.

The Cycle of Life

Each thing in nature has its place and part to play in the ever changing cycle of life and death. Snags and the wildlife that utilize them each play one or more roles in the "life cycle". Often the process which creates the snag, such as death-dealing insect attacks, provide food for the wildlife species that eventually utilize the snag for a home. Over 30 snag-associated species of birds and mammals feed on insects, thus helping to keep them in check. Most birds of prey that utilize snags live on small mammals such as mice, rabbits and gophers which are often destroyers of young trees. So the snag, often the result of destructive insects, plays a role in, the control of the other animals in the cycle of life.

Meeting Wildlife Needs

Habitat requirements of the various wildlife that use snags for nesting vary. Although snags do present some degree of a fire hazard, management guidelines must be tailored to fit the local needs of the particular kind of wildlife found in your area. For this reason you should contact the Forest Service office in your local area before cutting snags for fuel wood.

Uses of Snags

Snags provide homes for many kinds of wildlife. Included in the total are the following:

19 birds of prey
9 kinds of woodpeckers
5 kinds of ducks
22 kinds of songbirds
15 kinds of small mammals (including bats)
3 kinds of furbearers
6 kinds of squirrels and chipmunks
Home for Wildlife

Snags are used for: exterior nesting (birds of prey, brown creepers), interior (cavity) nesting (song birds, woodpeckers, squirrels), hunting perches (birds of prey, flycatchers), perching and singing (songbirds), communication (woodpeckers), food storage (small mammals), protection from weather (many groups), food source (insect eating birds), resting (bats, birds of prey, most groups), roosting (birds of prey, turkey, bandtail pigeon)

Spare That Snag!"


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