Can you imagine no longer hearing the cheerful “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” of the black-capped chickadee? These little forest-dwelling birds are so common throughout the watershed, it’s hard to imagine their song no longer part of the soundtrack of our lives.
Chickadees are part of a diverse and interconnected web of plants, mammals and insects that make up thriving forest communities. They raise their young in hollowed dead or rotting trees. One brood of chickadees can eat up to 9,000 caterpillars before leaving the nest. Caterpillars are notoriously picky eaters. They rely on a diversity of native plants to survive. So where there’s greater plant diversity, you’ll find more birds.
Ensuring our forests are healthy, connected, and diverse is key for keeping “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” playing on repeat. When diversity declines and forests become disconnected, species struggle to survive. The cerulean warbler is one casualty of degraded and fragmented forests. This small, blue-green songbird was added to the list of species at risk in 2011, alongside many others.
Healthy forests need plants of different varieties, heights, and ages to provide places to nest, hide, hunt, and forage. Even standing dead trees provide food for insects and woodpeckers. And when they fall, they add nutrients to the soil.
Take a short walk through your woods. What do you see? Large old trees, dead trees, fallen trees, young trees, saplings, shrubs, and flowering plants in the understory? These are some of the signs of a healthy forest.
Want to learn more? We can help you create a forest management plan to keep your forests healthy, connected, and diverse. Connect with a stewardship coordinator to help you get started.