Tag Archives: woodpecker
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.
I also understand that, besides safety issues, there is an aesthetic reason for taking down dead or dying trees. Few people actually understand that, from a wildlife perspective, these are often the most valuable trees in a forests (urban OR native forests). Many other communities have recognized this and have implemented programs to try to save some of these trees, marking them with “Wildlife Tree” signage so that the public understands why they have been saved. One example is a program in place in Orange County (http://cavityconservation.com/). An example of the type of signage used is shown below.
I have included a few photos showing cavities which have been used by nesting birds in recent years in East Portal Park. One tree in particular has been very productive and I am hopeful that this tree, at least, can be retained. It is along M Street, just where 51st intersects.