I heard a loud noise and walked out to Libby Road to see if there had been another car crash. Three deaths in two different crashes on Libby happened in a three month stretch a couple of years ago. One was from a man ejected from his car into a tree on our place. But it wasn’t a car that caused the noise. It was a tall snag of a dead hemlock tree that snapped off and crashed down into the creek behind the house.
There are three big snags from trees snapped off in wind storms during the last ten years. All are visible from our living room and bedroom windows. The western hemlock trees seem to get a rot of some kind and snap off during storms. We had an arborist come out and deal with two trees that could have endangered the house. I asked them to take off the tops of these 100 foot tall trees and leave some snags for critters. (Note; I'm capable of wielding a chain saw but not stupid enough to cut these trees down with the chance of smashing the house.)
To some, the snags are ugly. But here’s the reason to keep some of them. We’ve seen Red Breasted Sapsuckers, Chestnut Backed Chickadees, and Brown Creepers nesting in holes bored into the snags. Big Pileated Woodpeckers chipping out hollows and Owls, Hawks and Bald Eagles perched on them while either resting or waiting for something edible to show up below them.
I built a bat house and put it up on a cedar. Some woodpeckers used it as a sounding board. Like loud drunks in a bar, the males try to attract females by seeing who can make the most noise. We saw bats flying onto one snag and crawling under the loose bark to try to get some sleep. I assume it was because of the woodpeckers. There is a multitude of other critters that use the snags. Insects and other invertebrates are in there feeding and helping break down and prepare the wood to fertilize the next generation of forest trees.
The bird houses I put up in the forest draw breeding birds in the spring, but nature’s bird houses seem better. And we and our guests can be entertained watching all the avian action outside. There is a danger from leaving some snags in places they can do damage to homes and threaten people, but under safe conditions leaving some snags will give the critters we share our homes with rooms of their own.