Pileated woodpecker. (Pixabay image)

Column: Birds contribute to health of Shuswap forests

Shuswap Outdoors/Hank Shelley

With this mild winter and little snow, it’s a wonderful time for that daily – or occasional – walk in the many parks and trails we have in the city and surrounding locations. Canoe walking trails and Coyote Park to name two.

One interesting aspect of hooking up with nature is the bird life you may find – from the water ouzel (dipper) bouncing from rock to rock, picking up insects along a creek, to the ratta-tat of the pileated woodpecker. It’s a large bird, black with red crest and cap. It is of the Picidae family, and is unique with its zygodactyl feet, meaning two toes front, two toes back. It can move up and down a tree quickly, catching bugs.

Related: Column: Where have all the game animals gone?

The bird helps to rid trees of invading and present insects. Its tongue can reach three times the length of its bill, with a barb for searching out and probing cavities for insects.

The chips of cedar and old spruce wood litter the ground when the bird ravages a tree for grubs and insects. It is a keystone species in our forests, affecting several other species, including song birds, small mammals and wood ducks who use the woodpeckers’ large cavities in old trees for nesting. Another two tiny birds play a large part in keeping our forests healthy. Studies show that the chickadee and nuthatch help to increase growth in forest trees, by keeping beetles, caterpillars, ants and aphids from the tree branches.

Related: Column: Strange encounters of conservation officers

The study also showed that having the birds present disrupts the activity of ant and aphid colonies which feed on plant tissue, known as phloem-sap, that carries nutrient through the tree. By removing the insects from pine forests, the birds change the chemical flavour or terpenes, thus reducing attack by beetles, porcupines and squirrels.

Take along a bird book of native birds of B.C. when you’re walking. Many residents already have a love of bird watching in our area, which I believe had 76 species counted in the annual bird count. A casual walk in the woods is not only invigorating but gives a better understanding of how birds play a large part in keeping our trees healthy.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Kelowna man in wheelchair following police-involved shooting

“Shots were fired by police and the male was transported to the hospital with serious injuries.”

Alberta’s oil-by-rail plan a worry for Shuswap mayor

High volume of train traffic already an environmental/public safety concern

Snowplow accident leads to power surge, small claims decision

Tribunal rules Salmon Arm resident not entitled to additional compensation

Intentionally-set fire damages Scotch Creek building

Men help extinguish blaze by kicking snow on it

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Concert intended to help audience let go of stress and be happy

Northern Lights Chamber Choir celebrates 10 years of singing together

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

Man wanted for sex trafficking, confinement may be heading to B.C.

Kevin Myrthil, 26, is also accused of assault on a 19-year-old woman at an Edmonton hotel

Bursaries available for trades students at Okanagan College

“With this bursary, we want women to know that there is a place for you in this industry and a place for you to excel.”

A mother’s warning: Man follows Peachland teen to her home from Kelowna

The teen’s mother is warning others about the incident

Kelowna RCMP urge hit and run driver to turn themselves in

An alleged hit and run occured late Feb. 18

B.C. Speaker Darryl Plecas resumes battle with suspended staff

Committee meets at B.C. legislature to consider new allegations

Most Read