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Wildlife in Urban Forests

Wildlife in Urban Forests 

While working in the canopy of trees, arborists encounter many types of surprises. The most exciting, and potentially dangerous, of these involve wildlife. Trees are a major part of most ecosystems on earth and animals depend on trees as part of their habitat as well as a food source. Birds, racoons, squirrels, rats, and bees are just a few examples of wildlife we commonly cross paths with during treework.

To further increase the likelihood of these interactions, it just so happens that arborists and animals tend to be attracted to the same types of trees. Animals often seek larger, older trees to serve as their home, and they find cavities within these trees to protect themselves and rear their young. Arborists are concerned with these same trees because a decaying tree with cavities is more likely to fail, causing problems for the public.

Not only do animals use trees as their place of residence but trees also provide them with materials to build their nests. During nesting season, animals gather organic materials such as twigs, lichens, bark, and leaves to build their homes. They diligently use their beaks or paws to carefully weave and intertwine these materials, building to suit their specific needs. It is very important that we always look for nests in trees from the ground before climbing so we can be prepared.

Nesting season is the most important time of the year for urban wildlife. We, as arborists, need to be hyper-aware during this season and keep in mind how our actions can affect wildlife and the ecology of urban settings.  In general, nesting season occurs during the spring and summer. It is a critical practice, for the protection of both the animals and ourselves, that if we encounter an animal’s nest with an adult sitting on it and/or with eggs or babies, we step away from the tree and come back at a time when the nest is empty.

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