Forest Management Tips

A Successful 2017 Forest Field Tour

TimberWest South Island Logistics Facility

This week, PFLA members enjoyed an informative field tour, with stops at the TimberWest South Island Logistics Facility, the BC Forest Discovery Centre, and the Mesachie Lake Forest Research Facility.

About 25 large and small private forest land owners from throughout BC met in Cowichan Bay for the annual conference and AGM.

The two day event is a chance each year to share expertise, stay abreast of important policy developments, and see inspiring hands-on examples of innovative forest stewardship.

BC Forest Discovery Cent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mesachie Lake Research Facility

 

How Not to Get Killed By a Cougar

Photo credit: WildSafeBC

Spring is just around the corner. Before you head out to inspect the perimeter of your property, it’s a good idea to keep in mind what to do if you encounter signs of wildlife along the way.

Because we’re a safety first kind of association, we’ve put together a few safety tips and information about best practices to follow in case you encounter a cougar while you’re walking or working in the woods.

We know a lot of you have close encounter cougar stories of your own. We love a good story so we’re awarding a prize to the best cougar story out there. Tell us your story in the comment section below and you could win a case of canned salmon (the runner up wins a pitch fork).

While attacks by cougars are rare, they do happen and can be fatal (especially if young children are involved). Generally, cougars in conflict are younger cougars that haven’t learned how to hunt efficiently so they’re looking for easy targets, or else they’re older cougars that can’t hunt efficiently in the wilds anymore.

If you encounter a cougar, the first thing to remember is, keep calm.

  • Make yourself look as large as possible and back away slowly.
  • Keep the cougar in view. Make sure to allow a clear exit for the cougar.
  • Pick up any children or small pets immediately.
  • Make yourself look as large as possible and keep the cougar in front of you at all times.
  • Never run or turn your back on a cougar—any sudden movements could provoke an attack.

If you notice that a cougar is watching you, maintain eye contact with the cougar and speak to it in a loud firm voice. Reinforce the fact that you are a human and not an easy target.

If a cougar shows aggression, or begins following you, respond aggressively. Cougars see you as a meal and you’re trying to convince them that you’re not prey.

Keep eye contact, yell and make loud noises, and show your teeth. Quickly pick up nearby sticks, rocks, or whatever you have at hand to use as a weapon, if necessary (crouch down as little as possible when picking things up off the ground).

If a cougar attacks, fight back! Convince the cougar you are a threat. Use anything you have as a weapon— rocks, sticks, bear spray or personal belongings—and focus your attack on the cougar’s face and eyes.

To report an incident, call the Conservation Officer Service reporting line (1-877-952-7277).

Tips for Working in Cougar Habitat

Anyone working in the outdoors should be aware of the wildlife around them.

Cougars are found throughout British Columbia in both the backcountry and frontcountry. If you’re working in the woods you can assume you’re within potential cougar habitat, especially in the southern third of the province.

A few tips to keep safe working in cougar habit include:

  • Before heading outdoors, familiarize yourself with cougar habits and biology.
  • Work in pairs or groups.
  • Be alert for tracks, scat, scratched trees, and other signs of cougars (such as animal carcasses buried under vegetation).
  • To avoid surprise encounters, make noise to alert wildlife of your presence.
  • If you come across a food cache (buried prey), leave the area immediately.
  • If you happen to encounter cougar kittens, leave the area immediately. Do not approach or handle them.

A few safety equipment and procedure suggestions:

  • Carry a cell phone, satellite phone or GPS unit with you.
  • Have a first aid kit and bear spray.
  • Know the location and address to nearest hospitals complete with drive times.
  • Make sure you have check-in contact information and a schedule.
  • List of other important contacts for the field crew.
  • Have an inspection schedule for safety equipment to make sure the bear spray is within expiry date and the first aid kit is complete.

Thanks to Wildsafe BC — British Columbia Conservation Foundation — British Columbia Conservation Foundation for the information. You can visit their website for more detailed information and resources on cougar safety.

That Darn “Brush” (a New Look at Our Wonderful Forest Understory Habitat)

Thanks to the resource specialists at Forest Stewardship Notes (Washington State University) for permission to share this handy post originally published on their website.

Black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii).

Considered a nuisance by many landowners, shrub growth like black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) provides important shelter and forage for a variety of wildlife species.

Stand in your forest and count the overstory tree species you see. On the west side, this will likely include Douglas fir, hemlock, cedar and alder. On the east side, you are likely to tally Douglas fir, ponderosa pine and grand fir.

Now, from that exact spot, count the shrubby understory (or “brush”) species that you see. This may include oceanspray, serviceberry, ninebark, salal, salmonberry, red or blue elderberry, cascara, beaked hazelnut, bitter cherry, chokecherry, evergreen huckleberry and so on.

There is almost always two to three times as many species of native shrub, understory species on a site as there are tall trees. Wow!

Trees generally have a single stem and reach the highest levels of the canopy, while shrubs have multiple stems and grow in the understory. And yes, sometimes there are plants that confuse us. This rich, and often overlooked and underappreciated, layer of our forests contains some of the best wildlife habitat out there.

Benefits of Brush

Nearly 25 percent of our forest-dwelling wildlife rely on these plants for food or cover and would not exist on our lands without these wonderfully dense thickets—song sparrows, spotted towhee, warblers, chipmunks, deer and so.

The critter list of those that thrive on this critical habitat element is long. In fact, the shrub layer may be the most important habitat feature for a high diversity of wildlife species in early forest successional stages. Systematic research in Oregon has shown that songbird abundance and diversity is increased when west side plantations are allowed to develop some shrub components.

When sunlight reaches the ground, even in small amounts, the various shrub species will take advantage of this niche and grow sometimes for many years and to impressive mass. Who hasn’t seen a gap in the wet forest where the shrubs have come into create a little pocket of shrubs in the midst of an otherwise dark conifer overstory?

These canopy gaps are a great source of habitat diversity. Mixed stands of mature trees, (conifer and hardwood), openings and substantial shrub components can provide some of the richest and most diverse habitats in our forests. Many shrub species produce “mast,” or fruit, that is eaten by a wide array of wildlife, from birds to the smallest mammals and all the way up to the black bear.

The wonderful flowers of our shrub species provide feeding opportunities for pollinators, including hundreds of species of native bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. Unlike the conifer, these flowers produce nectar, a rich draw for many animals including specialized insects. And most of our game species, those big charismatic megafauna, forage on these plants too. Shrubs usually carry these animals through the winter.

Superstars

There are many shrub (“brush”) superstars. Here we highlight just a few of our best wildlife habitat shrub species.

blue elderberry sambucus cerulea

Blue elderberry (Sambucus cerulea)

Blue elderberry (Sambucus cerulea): This lovely plant grows in sunny spots east and west of the Cascades. It can take on a fairly large form if given enough time and light, reaching up to 25 feet high and across. Multiple stems produce lush, compound foliage that is preferred browse for deer, elk and other animals. The abundant purple berries are favorites of many birds and seldom last long. These same berries can even be made into wine or jam. If you want to enhance wildlife habitat by planting shrubs, this one is a great choice.

 

red elderberry sambucus raesmosa

Red elderberry (Sambucus raesmosa)

Red elderberry (Sambucus raesmosa): Wetter sites in western Washington grow the red elderberry, a very similar plant to the blue, with a branching brushy form and red berries favored by many wildlife species. These grow in small openings and in the dappled understory of mixed forest stands. In my observation these two plants usually don’t occur in the same locations, but both are great wildlife habitat plants.

 

salmonberry rubus spectabilis

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis): Dominating many understories across western Washington is the ubiquitous salmonberry. This plant features dense woody stems that can create a jungle of dense vegetation — perfect places for birds and small mammals to seek shelter. The berries resemble salmon roe (hence the name) and are eaten by most everything, including people.

 

indian plum foliage

Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis)

Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis): Perhaps the earliest blooming shrub species in western Washington is the gorgeous Indian plum. This rich understory species occurs on many moist forest sites, providing early foliage and flowers for native pollinators. They produce lovely, tiny purple fruits and never last long, being eaten at first chance by many birds and mammals. Watch for the white flowers in the first blush of spring.

Other shrub superstars worth mentioning include serviceberry, mock orange, ceanothus, cascara, salal, willow, dogwood, and even devil’s club. Each of these has great wildlife structure and bears fruit.

Management

Sometimes the dense nature of shrub cover can prevent conifers from regenerating for many years, much to the frustration of those attempting to grow trees for harvest. Vast effort is made to eliminate this competition on lands dedicated to tree production, often by using aerial application of herbicides. This is hard on the shrub layer to say the least.

The small landowner, however, usually has mixed objectives, wishing to provide quality wildlife habitat AND grow the next crop of trees. This can be accomplished by identifying the best wildlife shrub species growing on your property and actively maintaining them over time by allowing for space to grow these plants.

Conifer competition can be dealt with by physically cutting the competing plants back, and/or strategically using herbicides on individual plants or clumps, thus allowing the conifers to get above the shrub layer and form a new canopy.

Sometimes individual plants are cared for. Planting can work if adequate care is made for each plant. Control competition and prevent browse on young plants. Desired shrubs that have become tall and “leggy” with extended stems and leaf and fruits out of reach of browsers, such as deer, can even be simply pruned back just as we might manage the bushes in our yards.

These are just a few thoughts and examples of the fabulous shrub species we encounter on our forest lands that are worth knowing and keeping on the landscape. Find out what shrubs you have on your place. Their value to wildlife as habitat is very great and definitely worth managing for.

Learn and enjoy your brush, or should I say, “shrub habitat.”

By Ken Bevis, DNR stewardship wildlife biologist, Ken.Bevis@dnr.wa.gov

Tapping Bigleaf Maples on Vancouver Island

bigleaf maple tree on Vancouver Island Did you know bigleaf maples (Acer macrophyllum) are the largest and most common maple trees on Vancouver Island?

This “big daddy” of the Pacific Northwest boasts a height of 40 to 80 feet tall, a canopy that extends as far as 50 feet and sap with a sugar concentration fit for syrup production.

The leaves of the tree create sugar through photosynthesis. The sugar is stored in the roots and sapwood of the tree. Trees use sugar to grow buds, leaves, branches, sapwood and to heal wounds. The sapwood is near the outside of the tree and is the conduit for moving sap.

In honour of the recent Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival, followed closely by pancake Tuesday, we’ve put together some information on how to tap bigleaf maples.

Thanks to Gary and Katherine Backlund authors of Bigleaf Sugaring: Tapping the western maple for sharing the information.

When is the Best Time to Tap Your Maple Sap?

On Vancouver Island, tapping is best done between November and early March (once all the leaves haven fallen off the tree and before the buds open the following spring). Sap flows are normally sweetest in January and February. On the west coast, a good rule of thumb is that sap often flows a day before or after a change in the weather.

How Do You Know Which Trees to Tap?

An ideal tree has a wide-open crown, a trunk diameter between 4 and 18 inches and somewhat smooth bark. Although large diameter trees are desirable in the east, in the west large old gnarled hobbit maples seldom give much sap unless you can tap a sucker stem. When a maple tree is cut down, it sends up many new shoots (coppices) from the stump. These work well for tapping as they have a large established root system and you can use a big bucket to collect from several stems.

How to Tap Your Bigleaf Maple?

spiles for tapping sap to make maple syrup

Taps are called spiles (left image). Most commercial spiles are designed for a 7/16-inch hole. Ideally, you want to tap at a convenient height. Some folks recommend you tap on the sunny side of the tree directly under a large branch. Others suggest you work around the tree and get slightly higher with each new hole (assuming you tap the same tree year after year).

Tap holes are more productive if drilled on days when the sap is flowing. The hole is drilled 2 to 2.5 inches deep at a slight upward angle. If you drill too deep you may hit heartwood and decay.

When drilling the hole you should use a twist bit as opposed to a flat (speed) bit because a flat bit can clog the opening of the hole and reduce sap flow.

shows depth to place spile to tap sap and make maple syrup

Once the hole is drilled, drive the spile in place gently with a hammer to prevent leakage. Some spiles have a small hole that can clog up and stop the flow. You may want to pull the spile after several weeks to make sure no wood or sugar is plugging the spile.

You may also find that your holes dry up before you want them too. Usually, you’ll need to drill a new hole nearby after about 4 to 5 weeks.

Once the spile is removed it will take about a year for the hole to fill over with new wood.

How to Best Collect and Handle Sap?

milk jug collecting sap from a bigleaf maple tree on Vancouver Island

It’s nice to know some solutions are simple. Four-litre plastic milk jugs work well for collecting sap. The first step is to cut a hole where the milk jug tapers for the neck. Next, simply slip the jug over the spile. (right image)

using an oil jug to collect sap from bigleaf maple trees For highly productive trees, or multiple stems, you can connect spiles with tubing to a large bucket instead of using milk jugs.

Cooking oil buckets (16 litres in size and often  available for free from restaurants) work well for collecting and handling sap. (left image)

Remember: Your collection system should prevent rainwater and insects from mixing with the sap.

The best idea is to collect sap at least every three days. Most of the run occurs during the warmest part of the day, but sometimes trees flow all night long.

Once collected, store your sap in a cool place. Because sap contains sugar and yeast it can easily sour. Ideally, you should boil your sap down every few days.

How Can You Use Your Sap?

Because sap is only available three or four months of the year, making syrup is a great way to condense and preserve this wonderful product for the other eight months.

Sap (also called maple water) contains amino acids, vitamins and many trace minerals. While turning sap into syrup is the most common use, you can also use sap in place of water when you’re making tea, coffee, cooking rice, soup, stew, bread and other beverages.

How to Boil Down Your Sap to Make Syrup?

Sap is about 98% water. Boiling sap causes the water to evaporate which reduces the sap to syrup. At 2% sugar it will take about 43 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup.

If you’re boiling-down your sap indoors, you’ll have about 42 litres of steam to deal with. Using wood or propane heat outdoors is preferred. Stainless steel or cast iron flat bottom pans or large diameter kettles are best. Sap is considered syrup at 66.5% sugar.

Here are the steps to follow to boil-down your sap into syrup:

  1. Fill your pan with sap and heat to a rolling boil (some people filter the sap first).
  2. Skim any foam that appears off the top.
  3. As levels drop, add additional sap (slowly in order not to kill the boil).
  4. Taste occasionally for sweetness. Sap can burn easily when it’s close to done, so when it tastes quite sweet, bring the pan indoors to finish carefully on the stove.
  5. You can judge doneness by taste alone or by measuring temperature.
  6. To measure temperature: boil some water and measure the boiling temperature with a candy thermometer (the boiling temperature of water changes daily with atmospherics conditions). Water turns to gas at boiling so you can only reach approx. 212 degrees Fahrenheit and no hotter. Your syrup will be 66.7% sugar when its boiling temperature reaches 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the temperature of boiling water. It’s the sugar in the syrup that allows you to reach the higher temperature.

Important: CAUTION!

Your sap/syrup will be a very hot liquid, so be careful!! Things move fast at the end and you don’t want to accidentally burn or boil-over and ruin all your hard work.

It’s best to finish off a large quantity of syrup rather than a small one. You can evaporate your sap until it’s about 50% sugar, freeze it and store until you have at least a litre to finish.

How to Preserve and Store Your Syrup?

Strain the hot finished syrup through a felt or milk filter to remove the sugar sand (coffee filters also work, but not as well). If you decide not to strain the liquid, the sugar sand will settle to the bottom of the jars. No big deal. It’s a matter of preference.

The sap can then be poured into hot sterile jars and sealed or frozen. The sugar content preserves the syrup. If the sugar content is too low, the syrup can spoil. Syrup that grows mold can be filtered and re-boiled with no damage to the flavour.

Happy sap tapping!

A big PFLA thanks to Gary Backlund for sharing the information with us and a hearty congratulations on another successful Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival!

Visit the PFLA Facebook page to check out some archived photos of the Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival from a few years ago.

How To Make a Wildlife Tree

Thanks to the resource specialists at Forest Stewardship Notes for permission to share this handy post originally published on their website.

Ah, trees. Those leafy icons of life and nature, inspiring writers through the ages…

Douglas squirrel.
Wildlife tree dweller: Douglas squirrel. Photo: Ken Bevis.

In the forest, trees exist in many life phases simultaneously, from seedlings to giants, and then as standing dead trees (snags) and down logs. Natural forces constantly work on trees, causing them to grow, then die, crack, and rot.

The individual fate of a tree can vary tremendously depending on many factors including; species, wounds, rot, soil moisture, wind, branch breakage, lightning and more. Dead trees are an essential part of forest ecology.

Wildlife Species that Benefit from Woody Habitat Structures

Well over 100 species of wildlife in Pacific Northwest forests depend on dead wood for crucial habitat. Animals such as woodpeckers, songbirds, squirrels, salamanders and owls use these woody structures as places to feed, and as cover for resting and reproduction. The solid woody cylinder of a dead tree can be a boon for these animals, particularly if in a configuration that encourages wood rot while providing woody structure.

“Wildlife tree” refers to those trees, living, dead or some of both, with dead wood features (holes, cracks, loose bark, etc.) providing habitats for cavity dwelling species. In fact, nearly one-third of our forest wildlife species must have some form of “wildlife trees” on their home range for survival.

The best type of natural wildlife tree may be a broken off snag, with adequate height and diameter to provide for multiple wildlife habitat needs. These trees will stand the longest, as the weight of the tree top is gone, softening rot proceeds down the stem from the top, and these woody structures can persist for many years. Look for these venerable habitats in the deep forest.

Human Activities can Mimic Habitat Creation Processes

People actively cut trees across the landscape for many reasons, including harvest, landscaping and site preparation. But rather than always removing whole trees, arborists and loggers can easily create long-lived, high quality wildlife trees by simply shortening (or “topping”) the tree to an acceptable height, and then leaving the cut stem for weather and woodpeckers to do their work creating valuable habitat.

Tim Brown, wildlife tree creation pioneer.
Tim Brown, wildlife tree creation pioneer. Photo: Kelsey Ketcheson.

Tim Brown is a pioneer in wildlife tree creation. He started making wildlife trees in the 1970s when working first as a logger, arborist, and then as a forest firefighter. He has a lifelong love for wildlife, and noticed many animals fleeing from fallen snags while he was falling timber. “I started thinking about it and would come home and make wildlife trees. I started in gardens and with landscape trees.” he said.

His business, Frontier Tree Service, near Lake Sammamish, was well-known for creating many wildlife trees, which still stand in National Parks (including Sequoia), as well as National Refuges, National Forests and greenbelts throughout the Northwest and across the country. He worked as a consultant to assist scientists and land managers with wildlife habitat projects around the world as well. Today, Tim works to share his expertise whenever possible with interested landowners, arborists and wildlife biologists. We went out to a private land near Snoqualmie to demonstrate some of his techniques for this article.

Selecting the ‘Right’ Tree

Trees to be made into wildlife trees should be solid enough to be worked, preferably by a qualified tree climber or someone working from a bucket truck. They also should be a long-lived species and in a location where future safety issues, such as dwellings, roads, etc., won’t demand that the tree come down. Tim recommends conifers, particularly Douglas fir, cedar or ponderosa pine, as preferred wildlife trees, as they tend to last longer. He points out, however, that all species can function, and broadleaf trees can be worked too.

We identified a clump of root-rot killed Douglas fir for our demonstration, well away from the road. Tim determined that a recently dead tree approximately 24” in diameter was sound enough to climb. After ascended the tree with climbing gear, he cut off the top about 45 feet up, and used a chainsaw to create a jagged top. A smaller, softer unclimbable, dead tree stood close by and he cut the top out of that one while leaning over from the first tree. Both were shortened enough that they have a higher likelihood of snag longevity after treatment.

Identifying “strike distance” to high traffic “targets” is a part of this selection. The overall height of the created wildlife tree should usually be less than the distance to the target, unless there is very little traffic. Remember that the shortened tree will have little “sail” or weight on the top, so is unlikely to simply topple over. In general, wildlife tree stubs fall apart in place over many years rather than falling over.

Removing the Crown

“Topping” trees is considered bad form for arborists working on valuable ornamental trees. However, this same technique can create high quality wildlife trees that will stand for many decades and provide habitat for many, many species.

(Side note: In logging units, a “hot saw” or mechanical tree harvester, can easily make short snags by cutting off stems at between 8 and 20 feet.)

Lofty Decisions

How much to cut off?

How much of the trunk to remove when creating a wildlife tree?

“We want the tree to stay up as long as possible,” says Tim, who recommends assessing potential wildlife trees for lean, overall stability and sway. In wind sheltered areas, more of the tree can be left. In general, the larger the diameter, the better. Tim suggests that the top diameter of cut trees should be at least 6” in order to provide enough wood for smaller cavity excavator species. Trees are generally cut 1/3 to 2/3 of the way up, resulting in a wildlife tree between 25 and 60 feet tall, though it can be higher if conditions allow it. Most branches are removed, with some stubs or short branches retained when possible.

“Sometimes I’ll leave some green branches so the tree dies slowly and remains stable longer,” notes Tim, adding that causing the tree to die slowly allows its still-living roots to hold it up longer.

jagged-top
LEFT: Tim Brown uses a chainsaw to make a jagged top in topped tree. RIGHT: Example of jagged top created with chainsaw cuts and hammer blows. Photos: Ken Bevis.

The top of the wildlife tree should be “roughed up” with a chainsaw. This is accomplished by administering a series of v-shaped cuts across the top, then crisscrossing those with the saw from multiple horizontal angles.

“The top is jagged to better collect moisture and organic matter. Make it slightly concave in the middle to collect water,” Tim recommends. He also makes a few deep vertical cuts down into the stem at the top to help introduce water and rot into the stem more quickly.

Finally, banging on the cut top with the back of an ax will break off the flat surfaces and leave it looking entirely natural. This jagged top will provide more surface area to introduce rot into the stem.

Putting Cut Material to Good Use

The fallen top of the tree can be harvested as a saw log, used as firewood, or left on the ground to provide down-log habitat. Down wood has important value as habitat too, notes Tim, and offers other habitat features to work on, which we will describe in a future article.

Most managed landscape settings have a limited number of number of wildlife trees (those with soft dead wood that provide an opportunity for wildlife to create and use cavities). It has, and continues to be, a standard practice by many landowners to remove dead trees because of safety concerns or to use as firewood and other materials.

before-after
Wildlife habitat tree demonstration site before (left) and after (right) treatment of trees.

While the habitat value of wildlife trees becoming more widely understood, there remains a pressing need to create more of them by incorporating the maintenance and creation of these structures into routine management practices.

The time to create wildlife trees is whenever the opportunity exists, but particularly when there is a shortage of these structures in the forest. Ideally, there will be 6-10 of these tree per acre, with half of them in decayed soft condition and the rest hard.

Providing and creating wildlife trees is a simple and effective tactic for small forest landowners to encourage wildlife on their property. There’s lots of life in dead trees!

by Ken Bevis, DNR Stewardship Wildlife Biologist, ken.bevis@dnr.wa.gov, with Tim Browntimothykbrown@msn.com

Managing Wildlife Habitat: The Marbled Murrelet (Part 2)

marbled_murrelet_nest

Marbled murrelet nesting. Image credit: Lois Miller

Because responsible habitat management is a defining characteristic of private forest stewardship in B.C., we’ve put together a series of posts to help small-forest owners be the best forest stewards they can be.

In the first marbled murrelet post, we introduced some defining characteristics of the species and briefly explained why, as forest owners or land managers, it’s important to pay close attention to the marbled murrelet.

This second post includes information to help you identify nests, as well as better understand the habitat requirements of the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus).

Where do marbled murrelets make their nests?

The marbled murrelet, like most seabirds, spends the majority of its life on the ocean and comes on land only to breed. Marbled murrelets nest in solitary pairs at very low densities, typically within 30 km of the ocean, but nests have been located up to 50 km or more inland.

Marbled murrelets choose a variety of tree species and stands for nesting, but their preferences are:

  • Coniferous old forest stands (alder and maple are rarely used)
  • Stands typically located within 50 km of marine foraging habitat and below 800 meters elevation
  • Moist conditions of north aspect slopes because they offer abundant epiphytes and moss
  • Steep slopes or broken terrain which allows easier flight access into the canopy

How to recognize a marbled murrelet nest?

treenest

Marbled murrelet nest. Photo credit: Alan E. Burger

Typically, marbled murrelets select trees with large diameter branches covered in moss or lichen for nesting.

Murrelets are fast, but not maneuverable flyers. Nesting branches must be accessible from the air because the birds approach the nest with a ‘stall climb’ to reduce speed and enable them to land on the nest branch.

Nest branches usually include a ‘landing pad’ of approximately 1 meter adjacent to the nest (often located next to the trunk of the tree).

Overhead branches are also preferred because they offer visual cover from avian predators like goshawks, crows, ravens or jays.

What do marbled murrelets eat?

Marbled murrelets feed mostly on fish up to 8 or 9 cm in length and on shrimp-like crustaceans such as euphausids and mysids.

Their main prey species are sand lance, smelt and juvenile herring. Larger invertebrates (krill species) are also eaten if fish aren’t abundant. The sand lance appears to be the fish most often carried to nestlings.

Marbled murrelets normally feed in near-shore marine waters, including shallow bays, channels and fjords. Although groups of up to 100 murrelets may be attracted to sites where fish are concentrated, they feed as individuals.

The murrelet’s use their torpedo-shaped body and flipper-like wings to catch their prey underwater.

Marbled murrelet breeding chronology

Marbled_Murrelet_chick

Marbled murrelet chick. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Marbled murrelets don’t start breeding until they are 2 or 3 years of age and they have low reproductive output. (Again, if it helps to imagine Morgan Freeman’s voice narrating this section, we understand).

Incubation lasts about 30 days and both males and females incubate the egg. Once hatched, nesltings are fed 2 to 4 times per day by both adults. Marbled murrelet parents often fly 60-100 km round trip to gather herring and sand lance to feed their young.

Activity in forest nesting areas is highest from May to August, while marbled murrelets congregate in sheltered waters with abundant prey during winter months.

You can find more information about marbled murrelet characteristics here.

Thanks again to TimberWest biologists, Molly Hudson and Dave Lindsay, for their expertise in helping us put this information together.

2016 Hunting Season is Here

deerReminder: September 10th through December 10th marks your annual three-month window of opportunity to influence the management of black-tail deer on your property.

Managing deer populations is an on-going concern for private forest landowners.

While deterrents like browse protectors, repellents and fencing can be effective, they’re also time consuming and expensive to implement and maintain.

Hunting is an effective method to help protect your forest from the damage that browsing deer (and other ungulates) can cause.

For your information, we’ve included a link to the B.C. government website with relevant hunting information and the complete 2016-2018 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis.

The document:

  • Sets out general hunting information
  • Summarizes important hunting regulations
  • Defines open seasons with maps indicating closed areas

If you’re looking for expert assistance to help manage your deer problems before hunting season ends, please contact us directly to be added to our list of private land hunting opportunities for responsible and experienced deer hunters.