Alive or Dead?

What Am I Looking At?

Although this area looks like it is dead or dying, it is teeming with life— what evidence of life to you see here? The dead fallen tree is a “nurse log” to a new evergreen growing out of its hollowed trunk.

If you are quiet and listen, you will hear that this seemingly dead forest is full of life. You should hear birds chirping, woodpeckers hammering, bugs buzzing. These dead trees that are still standing, called SNAGS are an important part of the life of the forest. A forest requires death to survive.

Did you know that dead trees provide a vital habitat for more than 1,000 species of wildlife nation wide?

How do snags and logs “help” a forest?

  • They provide places to live—many animals, like birds, bats, squirrels and raccoons make nests in hollow cavities and crevices in snags.
  • Dead trees are a food source—they make a great home for mosses, lichen, insects and fungi. Deadwood becomes a fine restaurant for wildlife.
  • Tall snags provide nesting and roosting places as well as lookouts for raptors to find their prey.
  • They are hiding places—the nooks and crannies are a perfect pantry for squirrels and other animals looking to store their food.
  • Decomposing trees and logs help keep the soil healthy by returning their vital nutrients to the soil, and decaying trees can become “nurse logs” to new seedlings.
These may look like gross mushrooms to you, but they are a fine buffet for someone else!
Wild Turkey Tracks
Courtesy Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

What's Next?

As you continue your walk, look down at all the rotting trees and logs on the ground... what life can you spot?