DON'T CUT DOWN THAT SNAG



Submitted by Donna Bollenbach


Courtesy of Wikimedia 


The Wildlife Tree


SNAGS, often referred to as “The Wildlife Tree”, are dead tree trunks that are still standing.

They provide perches, food and nesting sites for birds and other wildlife. Wildlife also uses dead wood as landmarks for navigation, basking platforms, perching and nesting.








Cavity Dwellers

Nearly 40 species of birds and several species mammals in Florida nest in tree cavities.Woodpeckers, are a “primary excavators.”

Owls, Blue-birds, Squirrels and Nuthatches are a few of the “secondary cavity users.”











Photo by Donna Bollenbach


Snags as Perches

Many birds perch high on snags so they can spot prey below.

Some birds perch on snags for the greater visibility to a potential mate.












Snags as Cover


Birds and small mammals take shelter in the cavities of trees

Bees may also create hives in tree cavities.








Snags for Nesting

Ospreys and eagles will build their nests in the tops of snags, especially if they are located close to a body of water that will provide them fish for their young.

Woodpeckers, wrens, wood ducks, tree swallows, owls gnat catchers, and fly catchers are just a few of the birds that nest in tree cavities.







SNAGS as food source

Wildlife eat the insects that live and reproduce in the decaying wood of the snag.

Raccoons, bears and other wildlife will also search snags for high protein grubs and other insects














This old tree will eventually be a great snag

What makes a good SNAG?

Wildlife will use snags of both deciduous trees and evergreens. The height, diameter and type of wood (soft or hard) may determine when and how it is used. Hardwood trees, such as oaks, maples and elms, may develop cavities while they are still alive. Softwoods, such as pines and cypress trees, are more likely to have cavities after it dies.

Palm trees that lose their top (bud) during a storm, will eventually die. In natural areas that have been impacted by storms, you may see clusters of cabbage palm snags. Woodpeckers will search for insects and a dig cavities in live and dead palm trees.

If you have a dying or nuisance tree in your yard, you may have a potential wildlife snag.




Trees you may want to make into a snag:
  • Weak wood, or disease,
  • A shade tree in an area where you want sun,
  • A tree with invasive roots threatening a drainage or septic system,
  • A tree in a group that needs thinning out
  • A tree in an area where there aren’t any snags

Photo by Donna Bollenbach


Snags, Logs and Woodpiles in Your Landscape


Like vegetation, you should provide different heights of dead wood in your landscape. If you have a lot of property, you might consider having a variety of dead wood features. You can work deadwood into your landscape design for both function and beauty.

You may even “plant” small snags for songbird perches or in water features.

Snags also provide support for native vines, orchids, and bromeliads.









Photo by Donna Bollenbach

If leaving a snag standing is not safe, consider leaving the stump, or the cut logs in a far corner of your yard to rot and serve wildlife.

Logs are essentially fallen snags, and they serve much benefits, for wildlife that prefer to stay closer to the ground.

Also, instead of throwing out branches or other deadwood in your landscape, consider making a pile of it for wildlife.




So, before you remove a tree, consider its value to wildlife...
PLEASE don’t cut down that SNAG!

Photo by Donna Bollenbach

For more information:

Dead Wood: Key to Enhancing Wildlife Diversity in Forests
By Holly Ober & Patrick Minoque, University of Florida IFAS Extension.

Living With Wildlife: “SNAGS” The Wildlife Tree Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

Landscaping Backyards for Wildlife: Top Ten Tips for Success by Mark Hostetler, Greg Klowden, Sarah Webb Miler and Kara Youngentob, University of Florida IFAS Extension.

Florida Native Plant Society: Comprehensive information on native plant landscaping and landscaping for wildlife. 

Comments

So true and we need people to start implementing this. I live in a subdivision with a Homeowners Assoc. so sometimes you have to abide by their restrictive covenants. However, I have a turkey oak that is mostly dead and when it comes time to cut some top portions off for "neighbor safety" I plan on having about 20-30 feet of stump left to provide for the wildlife. I do not believe the HOA will say anything with a "fairly" small stump but should they, I will just put vines up or brackets to use to hang flowers, etc. One way or another, I will use that stump to provide for wildlife.

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