Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Buzzard Tree

Dead tree a preferred perch for raptors



I've been watching this old oak tree for years. It stands by itself on a hilltop along a highway I travel frequently. The weather has been hard on it in recent winters. It has lost several branches, and I'm not sure it's going to leaf out this year.

Today, when I passed by the old oak on my way home from work, several buzzards were resting in its upper branches. From the top of the tree on top of the hill, they have an unobstructed view for miles around. The lack of leaves is a plus.

I an still hoping that the tree will eventually get some leaves this year. But if it has died, I hope the landowner will leave it standing for the birds. Raptors (birds of prey), such as the turkey buzzards in the photo, enjoy perching on dead trees, and the location of this one is perfect for them.

Other users of dead trees


Cavity nesters who need dead trees include woodpeckers, bluebirds, nuthatches, chickadees, house wrens, tree swallows, screech owls and more. Birds that build nests in the branches of dead trees include eagles.

Other wildlife, such as squirrels, deer mice, weasels, raccoons, and bats, use hollows in dead trees for shelter.  In fact, the Natural Resources Conservation Service states that dead trees provide homes for more than 400 types of birds, mammals, and amphibians.

Related post: Woodman, spare that (dead) tree

This article is my contribution to the 100th Festival of I and the Bird which will be published on May 14, 2009, on the Nature Blog Network's blog.

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)

Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

Photos and text copyright © 2006-2010 by Genevieve L. Netz. All rights reserved. Do not republish without written permission. My e-mail address is gnetz51@gmail.com