On Saturday, Oct. 3, tree-loving volunteers in Marine on St. Croix moved 14 bird-friendly trees from the Marine gravel bed where they had been developing a strong root system over the summer.
The Autumn Blaze maples, mountain ash and showy ash, and thornless hawthorns were transplanted into the Oakland Cemetery, by the Settlers Cabin in Burris Park, by the Marine school playground, and along residential roads.
In previous years, the Urban Forest Committee volunteers planted trees that will grow to be large canopy trees. This year efforts focused on trees to provide insectory, food and habitat.
“It’s obvious that birds need trees,” said the forest committee chair Peter Foster. “But we rarely think about the fact that birds need insects, especially caterpillars. That’s what they feed to their young. It can take more than a thousand caterpillars to get a bird from hatchling to fledgling.”
When choosing trees, the Urban Forest Committee looks first to the DNR’s list of trees likely to thrive in a changing climate. This year, they also researched the best trees for birds, using resources like the National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder (https://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder/Plants) and the Audubon Society’s Native Plants database (https://www.audubon.org/native-plants).
“We used the Exploring Birds website (https://www.exploringbirds.com/) to learn more about the types of migratory birds we see here in the St. Croix valley,” Foster said. “It’s more important than ever to plant a diversity of native trees and shrubs because they attract exactly the kinds of insects that local birds and wildlife need.”