Woodland Wildlife Habitat

Most of our native woodland wildlife live in and around trees. Many animals inhabit hollow areas in trees, while some build nests. Trees usually develop hollow cavities as they grow older or when they die, so it’s the large and dead trees that house the most wildlife.

In our area forests, it is not uncommon for animals such as flying squirrels, screech owls, nuthatches, wood ducks and bluebirds to live in hollow areas in trees, especially dead trees. In addition, when trees fall to the ground, they provide cover for animals such as foxes or bears that might burrow under the tree. After these trees have settled and begin to decompose, they attract many insects, salamanders, reptiles and small mammals, such as shrews.

Many of our woodland-dwelling birds build nests in trees, and many are very particular about at what height they prefer to live. Some birds, like the vireos, prefer living in the upper canopy; others, like nuthatches, at the midstory level; still others, such as the ovenbird, prefer to reside near the ground.

This red-bellied woodpecker is a common sight in Frederick County woodlands. These birds like forested areas, from old stands of oak and hickory to young hardwoods and pines.

Forests that have numerous canopy layers have greater potential to house a more diverse bird population. Other animals that build nests in trees include gray squirrels, hummingbirds, warblers and bald eagles.

To provide the best possible habitat in your forest, try to develop and retain some large “wolf” trees, keep a few standing dead “snags,” preserve some downed trees and encourage the development of a diverse multilayer canopy.

Article by FCFCDB member

Nature Note for 2/14/2016