Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Last Year at a Fallen Aspen

If you’re a regular visitor to In Forest and Field you’ve seen previous videos of the wildlife activity on and around fallen trees. Today we’re looking at the wildlife that used a large fallen quaking aspen in 2023.

Quaking aspen has the widest range of any North American tree and is named for the way its leaves shake in the slightest breeze due to their flattened petioles (stems). Aspens are fairly short-lived trees with an average life-span of about 75 years although some individual trees can live twice as long. These trees are pioneers on disturbed sites: abandoned fields, strip mines and areas burned by a forest fire. They can be distinguished by their gray bark with a greenish or yellowish cast and almost round leaves. Old aspen have dark furrowed bark.


This fallen aspen grew in a long-ago pasture and was one of the last remaining aspens on the site; it was surrounded by younger maples, ash and birch trees which will take its place in the forest. The tree stood for several years before it decayed enough to fall. In death it’s attracted a host of wildlife species –


The red fox can be easily differentiated from the eastern coyote by its uniformly colored coat and the dark stripes down its front legs. Apparently the black bear was exhausted as it rested before it crossed the fallen aspen. Did you notice the mouse climbing the distant tree and the mouse carrying its prize, a small bone that will provide the mouse with calcium?

3 comments:

Villrose said...

That was some cast! Fallen trees really are useful for other living critters.

eileeninmd said...

What a great variety of critters. I like the cute mouse with the bone.
The bear taking a rest, the woodpeckers and the weasel are favorites.
Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a great weekend.

Shiju Sugunan said...

Fascinating to see how the fallen tree has become a new habitat for different wildlife species.