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The Wonderful Life of a Dying Tree with Gillian Martin – Monthly General Program

April 21, 2021 @ 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

You are unlikely to view dead trees the same way again after Gillian Martin passionately and persuasively illustrates their contribution to the diversity and sustainability of forests. Yes, even the urban forest. In her lively presentation on death and dying, Gillian will give us a fascinating look at the tremendous habitat value of these trees. “A tree has two lives,” she points out. “One when it’s healthy and mature and another, as it starts to die.” In fact, some trees have more diverse habitat value as they die, when decaying wood and loosening bark provide many benefits for birds and mammals, not to mention insects, fungi, and bacteria. A healthy ecosystem needs unhealthy trees.

Snags are particularly vital for birds that nest in cavities in their trunks or limbs. Over 80 species of cavity-nesting birds are found in North America, including 11 ducks, 22 woodpeckers, 40 songbirds, 10 owls, and 2 falcons. Along with food and shelter, snags and stumps provide birds and wildlife with unobstructed views for hunting and fly-catching, territorial defense, courtship, preening, and food storage.

Dead trees are valuable not just to birds but to other vertebrates. In California, about 35 species of mammals—including raccoons, squirrels, foxes, and bats—use dead trees and downed wood for habitation. The western fence lizard, the arboreal salamander, and other organisms also use nooks and crannies in dead trees and downed wood for safety from the elements, thermoregulation, and protection from predators.

Gillian is a 20-year Audubon member, naturalist, and founder of the Cavity Conservation Initiative. Its mission is to support wildlife that rely on dead trees. She is also the co-founder of the Tree Care for Birds and Other Wildlife Program. “Dead trees need ambassadors now more than ever.”

Join us on a Zoom presentation to learn more. Maybe you’ll be the next ambassador for dead trees!


April 21, 2021
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
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