Let’s Keep the Bluebird of Happiness

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.

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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.

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Insist on Trees

SONY DSCOur mother insisted on trees. She made a little village under the Christmas tree every year, and the village had to be crowded with tiny trees. She was from the Midwest and said, “Believe me, you don’t want to live without trees.” This gave me the notion that the Midwest was a vast and barren Arabia-like wasteland where people moved listlessly, blinded by a burning glob of unfiltered sun. My little brother Michael liked to watch the Christmas village go up, and one year he was allowed to help put in the trees. Every little house had at least two trees, and taller trees were placed behind them, to suggest the nearness of a great forest. My mother said Michael was the best tree placer she had ever seen, and had made the village come alive. The trees, she said, turned plain little houses into snug beautiful homes.

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