For the Birds: Whose woods are these...

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Hairy Woodpecker extracting bug out of branch stub
Photo by Elaine Chuang
By Christine Southwick

I think I know…

Most birds locally, plus many other creatures, use trees for safe roosting spaces, especially during winter’s colder temperatures and wet weather.

Pileated Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Chestnut and Black-capped Chickadees all use holes in bigger trees here to nest, raise their young, and to sleep warmly and stay out of the damp cold

In return, they help keep the forests healthy by eating harmful bugs.

Pileated Woodpecker (male) on root snag
Photo by Elaine Chuang
If there is dense cover of native trees and shrubby habitat, a few Townsend’s Warblers and Yellow -rumped Warblers will stay in the area, especially if you supply non-frozen water, and suet.

I have a pair of Townsend’s Warblers that I often see in January-March— maybe they have migrated from Alaska, since our winters are milder and have more food than where they nest.

Coopers Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks also nest in our woods, and their successes depend on finding enough prey to feed their offspring-- voles, mice, and yes, birds. Most treed neighborhoods have resident Barred Owls which will eat mice and rats.

And those tall trees with denuded branches at their tops— those branches are the perches from which Merlins and Olive-sided Woodpeckers launch during their food forays. Save them, and you will be rewarded with great sightings.

Red-breasted Sapsucker using its sap holes.
Hummingbirds use them too. It doesn’t hurt live trees.
Photo by Elaine Chuang
Fox Sparrows and Varied Thrushes come to our wooded neighborhoods in the winter-time and then leave in the spring.

If you want them in your yard, you need lots of leaves (corners and under shrubs work well), and if you have a small clump of Himalayan Blackberries Fox Sparrows may stay even longer.

Actually all local sparrows like leaves, as do salamanders, and beneficial bugs.

Native Douglas Squirrels are only found in woods and forests— the more wild and mature, the better.

Townsend’s Warbler in woody brush.
Photo by Elaine Chuang
Some migrators, such a Willow Flycatchers, and many warblers depend on tree-top resting stops during their northern migration, so large tall trees in our own yards and in our parks and green spaces are vital all year round.

Then, we have many warblers that come to our woods in the spring for nesting and go back south for the winter.

Help create places for birds— keep trees, tall and short, evergreen and deciduous, live, partially alive, and even dead (habitat trees—you can create tall or short snags, or save logs.)

Let’s hear it for the BIRDS

12-17-17 corrected captions on first two photos


Anonymous,  December 17, 2017 at 7:29 PM  

thanks for great info! a little mess in the yard is a good thing.

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