Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Forester's Wildlife . . .

A forester's wildlife . . .

Back in the good old days,
.. when the forest service had not yet recognized
.... that "birds that live in holes in dead trees,
.... and eat bugs that defoliate their trees..."
I had as many as five thousand boxes in trees.

Ahhh such fond memories...
.. of sawdust and building parties and donated lumber,
.... and climbing parties, hugging trees with my knees,
...... and that trembling thrill of trying to tie in.
I really didn't worry about big birds in my tree.

Then, of course the learning,
.. of who was using my boxes and platforms,
.... with lots more climbing and snooping,
...... and puzzling out the sign, often in layers.
Occasionally there were even occupants, at home.

Great gray owls on open platforms,
.. ravens in a big box, chipmunks and squirrels,
.... bluebirds, flickers, kestrels and even small owls,
.... here a weasel caught a chipmunk that ate the bluebird.
Once... I even found a couple of dried truffles buried in a nest.

There were a few surprises . . .
.. the hives of bees were good for adrenaline,
.... the bumble bees deep in a flying squirrel nest, buzzing,
...... or a box full of furry voles with seven saw-whet owlets.
The porcupine on a platform had been sleeping soundly.

Have you ever met baby red squirrels face to face?
.. First time out of their box, hanging on my nose
.... or plopped on top of my head, they pause gathering their game,
..... then empty their bladders as they take the air.
The feel of trembling warm toes is a gift as the trickle runs down.

Hopefully, now, foresters and land managers
.. are knowledgeable and wise in their choices,
.... allowing dead trees are integral to the forest,
...... and the associated wildlife does more service than harm.
Driving the managed forests I find myself automatically counting snags.

--r.anderson 13Feb2011