Thursday, October 11, 2018

In Praise of the Hollow Tree

Foresters, loggers and sawmill owners are, in general, no fans of hollow trees. Hollow trees take up growing space that could be utilized by trees of greater economic value. Felling hollow trees is dangerous and takes the time and fuel that could be used to cut trees that are valued in terms of dollars.

However, hollow trees and even hollow branches on otherwise healthy trees have a value beyond dollars.

Not all hollow trees are created equal. There are, of course, trees large and small – there are trees whose trunks are hollow from top to bottom; trees whose trunks are only partially hollow; dead or decaying trees in which woodpeckers have chiseled cavities; fallen hollow trees. Everything said about hollow trees may also be said to apply to hollow limbs and branches.

We’ll leave how and why trees become hollow for another day and take a further look at the value of those hollows. 

Before European settlement of eastern North America when vast acreages were occupied by forests containing large trees, black bears spent the winter in trees like this one (they still do where such trees are available) –

And turkey vultures nest in some of those large hollow trees –

Smaller hollow trees are frequently used by smaller creatures: raccoons –

And squirrels of all species –

Red Squirrel

Southern Flying Squirrel

Eastern Chipmunk

The porcupines that leave a pile of droppings at the base of a hollow tree –

Have an impregnable fortress inside a hollow tree –

Woodpeckers frequently create their own hollows in trees with soft wood –

Yellow-shafted Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker

Those cavities are often used by other cavity-nesting or cavity-roosting birds that also frequently use natural hollows –

Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch

Insects, spiders, mice, shrews, fishers and a lot of other animals use hollow trees, even snakes like this black rat snake –

Wildlife populations can utilize more than ten tree hollows of various sizes on every acre of woodland; so please, oh please, save that hollow tree.


eileeninmd said...

Hello, I always think the trees should fall naturally. The critters do make their homes in the hallowed trees. Great collection of photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend.

Adam Jones said...

That was a great series of pictures. Really enjoyed the variety that you found.

Jenn Jilks said...

I so enjoyed your post! What a wonderful theme.
We have a pair of barred owl who use a hollow tree out back.
Well done!
(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!