In addition to providing oxygen, acting as a carbon dioxide sink, giving shade, contributing building products, reducing energy costs and consumption and imparting aesthetic value trees are also habitat and forage for many species of birds. Birds roost in trees when undertaking migrations of several thousands of miles as well as nesting and rearing young in them. Flowers, fruits, leaves, twigs, buds and woody parts are used by different species in different capacities. Snags, or dead trees, left standing and trees with rotten spots (so long as they are not dangerous life or property) are valuable habitat as well.
Preserving and planting trees ensures birds can have contiguous canopy to aid in migration, food reserves for those winter months and habitat for roosting and raising young. Many birds are protected on the state or federal level by the Endangered Species Act or internationally by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. As so, it is “illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations.” It is important to confirm that there are not birds nesting in your trees prior to taking them down. If you suspect there are protected species on your property or have questions regarding steps to take, contact your regional fish and wildlife office: http://www.fws.gov/offices/.
Backyard Bird Habitat
Your backyard can help provide bird nesting habitat and forage while also granting your landscape aesthetic value. If there are birds you are especially interested in attracting;
- look up their life cycle details and habitat needs at http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search,
- have your arborist assist you with inventorying the plants and trees already thriving on your property,
- map out your current catalogue and consult with your arborist regarding the native plants you are interested in adding to attract birds and where they will work in your landscape.
Consider planting conifers, nut or acorn producing trees, grasses, legumes, nectar producing trees and ornamentals to attract birds to your landscape. Also look into when plants produce fruit (summer, spring, fall) and coordinate that with birds’ winter migration routes, nesting grounds and/or year round inhabitance.