Guest Column - Trees are for the birds

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife watching in Michigan is estimated to be a two-plus billion-dollar activity. Birding, alone, attracts about two million people.  In the high altitude economic picture, these aren’t huge numbers but they’re significant in the natural resources world. 

Roughly half of all birds that occur in Michigan use at least one kind of forest.  Habitat quality is not a straight-forward thing.  Different habitats serve different functions, and at different times.  

Take the Ruffed Grouse, for example.  It likes thick “brushy” conditions to nest and raise young.  In winter, mature aspen and the male flowers are preferred food.  Young sapling stands offer critical escape cover from predators.  The males like to have large logs from which they “drum” to attract mates and establish territory.  So, in a landscape of a few acres, a diversity of forest characteristics is needed for optimum habitat. 


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