Dead Trees? Leave Them Until Summer’s End!

April 30, 2014

Got dead trees? Leave them! It might be customary to take down dead trees, trim dead branches or remove old logs, but keeping them in place can provide a place to nest, store food, hunt, roost and rest for more than 80 species of birds, according to Audubon. This is particularly true in oak woodlands, Audubon says, where numerous bird species eat the insects that are attracted to decaying wood. Audubon says that, if a tree or branch must be removed, then consider placing it somewhere else on the land or, in the case of a tree, removing only part of it.

A tree trunk that has been taken out of the ground can be replanted into a hole elsewhere, Audubon says. Ohio State University says that, in some forests, 30 to 45 percent of the bird species nest in cavities. In North America alone, 55 avian species nest in cavities in wood, including eastern bluebirds, American kestrels and wood ducks. Other creatures besides birds benefit from dead wood. For example, salamanders like the security and dampness of the soil beneath rotting logs; small mammals find shade under dead limbs and downed wood; and spiders, beetles, worms and microbes feed on decaying wood. Additionally, fungi and mushrooms grow on and around logs, turning the decaying wood into important nutrients for the forest ecosystem, according to Ohio State University.

So, if you “Got dead trees – leave them until summers end”!

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