Foresters for the Birds Project Takes Flight
By Allaire Diamond
Taking "a bird's-eye view" often connotes seeing something from the air, from far away, where large landscape patterns supersede the subtleties visible at close range. Migrating birds traversing continents and vast ecosystems on their spring and fall journeys certainly interpret landscapes on such an elevated scale, and major stopovers such as Cape Cod, the Chesapeake Bay, and Vermont's own Dead Creek attract hundreds of thousands of birds each year.
Yet when it comes to choosing a nest site, forest-dwelling birds train their eyes on quite a different landscape. They can identify trees, calculate the angles of branches, measure overstory closure and assess the amount of coarse woody material on the forest floor. They measure many of the same things that foresters account for when cruising woodlots and writing management recommendations. And like foresters and forest landowners, birds do it because a forest is an investment for the future. Each bird species will only commit the significant time and energy to build a nest if it thinks conditions are exactly right.