Saving our Ashes!

Pileated Woodpecker

“Life will find a way!”  I love that line in the Jurassic Park movie.  It is awesome how true that statement is.

This past winter Jenney and I have done a great deal of winter hiking; and our travels had us pondering a change we have seen in the forests we have encountered.

Ash tree debarked by a pileated woodpecker Many of the trees we were seeing had been de-barked.  A look at the size of the bark chunks and we determined it had to be a pileated woodpecker.  Some forests had a few, and some had a great many…trees like the ones pictured above, with the outer layer of bark left in a pile around the base of the tree.

ash-tree-debarked

As we continued to see this repeating scene, we became more and more curious as to the cause.  Our hikes have made one thing clear to us…wildlife, and that includes birds, are found where their food is…and water.  So easy leap…they are taking the tree apart for food.  What food?  And then the lightbulb…perhaps it’s the ash borer.

emerald-ash-borer-tracks

It turns out that the Pileated Woodpecker has discovered what a great food source the emerald ash borer is.  And while man has been scampering to find a solution which would “save our ashes,” nature stepped in.  While the above trees look ravaged by the woodpeckers, the fact is, their fate is already sealed.  The woodpecker is merely highlighting the fact the tree is done for.  But the woodpeckers are so effective at catching the adults (estimated at 85%), they are greatly reducing the spread of this deadly pest.

At this point, scientists are predicting healthy forests that include our beloved ash trees!

Pileated Woodpecker at Clifty Falls State Park

Glad the Pileated came to our rescue before we brought over some “fix” from somewhere else which would only make things worse.

Life will find a way.

 

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