Republican's Motto-A Tree Left Standing Has No Value
With each old forest tract that is removed from the boreal forest zone, cavity
trees are lost, roosting and foraging habitats are altered, and competition
for remaining resources is magnified. The signs of change in the environment
are readily apparent: boreal owl numbers have declined since the late-1980's,
a mere fraction of historic cavity trees remain standing, and the distribution
of the owls has decreased markedly. Throw in global warming and scientific
predictions that the boreal forest zone is receding to the north and the periodic
winter irruptions are (and will be) relegated to nothing less than a birding
Old growth and old forest habitats are critical to all northern forest owls. Without decadent trees, cavities are not excavated and obligate secondary cavity nesters move elsewhere. And it isn't just the owls. Small mammal populations have been shown to be up to 5 x's higher in intact old forest and old growth tracts. Irruptive owls move south, but for the survivors, the return north increasingly means fewer cavity trees, fewer forests, and fewer resources.
the winter progresses, owl sightings will increase and so too will the number
of owls that meet their demise in habitats far removed from their natal forests
and bogs. When spring comes again, the wintertime observations will subside,
birders will anxiously await the arrival of neotropical migrants, and owl
survivors will move north to sing and hoot in familiar tracts of boreal forest.
There, the true struggle will begin.