VIDEO: The Wonderful Life of a Dying Tree, May Community Program


The Wonderful Life of a Dying Tree
Presented on Monday, May 18th, by Gillian Martin

Now available on the MCAS YouTube Channel.

From article by Gillian Martin publishers in Pacific Flyway newsletter (pg 3).

Our eyes dismiss a dying tree. Our fears tell us to cut it down and haul it away quickly. How often do we ask, “Does the tree need to be removed completely?”

A dying tree has a commendable destiny. Whether it still stands, is reduced to a hollowed stump, or becomes downed wood, most of its life occurs in a complex, intriguing, unseen world. Imagine a time-share that is used by different species, for different purposes, in every stage of its demise. Few natural resources are as overlooked and unappreciated.

One of the most critical relationships between dead trees and wildlife involves the woodpecker. This family of birds needs rotting wood in standing trees in which to excavate nest and roost sites. As if to ‘give back’ to its neighborhood, the woodpecker leaves its abandoned cavities to dozens of secondary cavity-nesting species. Could the bluebird, nuthatch or chickadee conceive of a better neighbor? But that’s not all, the woodpecker’s foraging methods sometimes expose insect nests for other insectivores. Secondarily, by working in decaying wood and brushing against fungal fruiting bodies the woodpecker becomes a vector of fungal spores and mycelial fragments. Does the term ‘forest succession’ come to mind? Yes, nature intended a tree to die in place and ultimately return its nutrients to the soil to support the next generation of trees and other vegetation.