For the Birds: A Tree Came Down Today

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Bushtits cuddling in a tree
Photo by Robert McIntosh

By Christine Southwick

A tree came down in our neighborhood today and many neighbors grieved and will continue to grieve. It was a tall Beech tree, over 60 feet tall.

This tree was used as a resting and surveying stop for Band-tailed Pigeons, American Robins, Pine Siskins, finches galore including the House and Goldfinches that liked to sing and flock to this tree.

Robin convention
Photo by Christine Southwick
Bushtits would use the lower branches to safely hop into nearby shrubs.

Every fall I knew when the winter group of juncos had arrived — they landed in that Beech and called out to the resident juncos.

How will the Band-tailed Pigeons scope out whether it is safe to come to my feeders or not?

How far will the Robins have to travel to find the foods that they gleaned in that tall leafy tree?

(Note: the Ash Tree that they would mob for the berries was cut down three years ago, and the neighborhood population of Robins plummeted and has not recovered.)

Chickadees, Bewick’s Wrens, Yellow-rumped Warblers and other warblers I didn’t identify since the tree was so tall frolicked in that tree.

Douglas squirrel
Photo by Elaine Chuang
The next day after the tree came down there were NO bird sounds for hours — nor were there any sightings of the local Douglas Squirrel that comes every day for peanuts.

Did that Douglas Squirrel live in that tree too?

There were two nests that looked suspiciously like squirrel nests.

Were woodpeckers resting within? 

I do know that the Northern Flickers used the top branches every spring for their courtship displays and Downy and Hairy called from there.

Band-tailed Pigeon
Photo by Craig Kerns
Then there are the human impacts: no filtered air or sun; less moderation of cold in winters; less privacy between the neighbors; and the esthetic value.

I will miss the buds and the leaves, and the fall colors — I already miss the textured skyline, and the birds that I could count sitting on branches.

That tree didn’t need to come down — only a couple of the top branches needed lopping.

One arborist said that the rest of the tree was healthy, but another company was more than willing to cut down the whole thing, and grind it up like it never existed.

Keeping a snag would have cost less, and our neighborhood would have been better served.

A tree came down in our neighborhood today and many neighbors grieved and will continue to grieve.


ABinLFP December 15, 2018 at 11:56 PM  

So horrible! I wish the City and homeowners would do a better job of preserving significant trees!

Anonymous,  December 17, 2018 at 10:10 AM  

So I guess the real deal is what is significant to one (or many) may not be to others (property owner). If we refuse to protect our own arboreal canopy, we have no right to tell other people how to manage their forests (Brazil, Amazon, Sumatra etc)

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