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“My parents drilled river safety into us with one rule: Don’t swim in the rivers.”
On the first day of each school year, I pull out a laminated story from The Sacramento Bee. The picture shows a boy in a life vest and the story covers safety on the river. My tanned students, fresh from summer, eye the paper and pass it around. Then I tell my stories.
Many years ago my father took me aside to show me a small clipping from the paper. A young girl drowned in the American River. Her last name was Brown, and I sat behind her the prior year in school. She tripped into an underwater hole and was overcome by the currents. She died on a beautiful July day playing with her family and friends.
Cavity-nesting birds in East Portal Park
The drought has killed several trees in East Portal Park and I now see that many of them have been marked with an orange ring, presumably so that they can be taken down. While I recognize the need to remove any which pose a safety risk, it is also important for the city to consider the wildlife value of these very trees.
Our city is home to a wide variety of bird species, many of which breed right in town. Among those birds, some nest only in cavities in trees. For the most part the trees, which provide the best cavities for these birds, are ones which are dead or dying. I walk East Portal Park nearly every morning and have noted that at least three bird species have nested each year in cavities in trees in this park: Nuttall’s Woodpecker (a woodpecker found only along the west coast in California and Oregon), Western Bluebird, and Oak Titmouse. In particular, all three species are using cavities in some of the marked trees. (Zelkova species, I believe.) I am hopeful that the city will consider saving at least one or two of these trees.