The frenzy of tree cutting and cleanup following the winter ice storm spells bad news to wildlife.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists encourage property owners not to be too quick to remove all storm-damaged trees and shrubs.
Sixty-five species of birds, 30 species of mammals and two species of amphibians use dead trees for shelter, food or rearing offspring, according to Howard Ferguson, the department’s urban biologist in Spokane.
Many other species of birds and animals depend on previously excavated or natural holes for nesting.
“Certainly there are many instances where damaged trees pose a safety hazard to people and their homes or other buildings and, therefore, need to be removed,” Ferguson said. “But there are many more broken-top trees that could be left standing to provide homes and life for birds and other animals.”
Trees and shrub debris can be piled to create year-round hiding and nesting places.
Little-known facts about life in dead trees include:
The insulation of a tree trunk home allows many animals to survive extreme summer and winter temperatures.
Rhythmic drumming on dead trees is a woodpecker courtship ritual, as well as a part of territorial defense.
Nesting woodpeckers excavate up to three cavities per year before choosing one for a nest.
As bark cracks and loosens on a dead tree, exposed crevices and overhangs are used as roosts or nursery colonies by insect-eating bats.
Tree cavities and loose bark house insects that provide food for many animals and provide places for animals to store food.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department offers a $5 information packet “Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary” that includes tips on how to help wildlife share your property. Contact the Spokane regional office 8702 N. Division St., Spokane, WA 99218-1199, (509) 456-4082.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Think wild Planning to landscape or replace plants lost to Ice Storm? Consider going with native plants adapted to this region’s wildlife and climate. Options include serviceberry, snowberry, woods rose and other flowering shrubs. Info: Plants of the Wild in Tekoa, Wash., (509) 284-2848.