[CT Birds] Trees on Charles island
PCOMINS at audubon.org
Fri Jan 6 13:23:50 EST 2017
I received some more information about the situation at Charles Island:
The birds are not killing the trees. There is a soil fungus (Armillaria) that has weakened the trees and caused wood rot. Additionally, there are invasive vines (bittersweet) that have both strangled the trees and weighed down the crowns. The deer population, which in 2010 it exceeded 1500 deer/sq mile(!!) eliminated any natural regeneration and the mid-canopy which was not only nesting habitat for Snowy Egret and Glossy Ibis, but a wind-break of sorts for the tree trunks. This created conditions where the trees were very vulnerable to storm damage by the time Irene and Sandy came along and blew down the weak, top-heavy trees. Current efforts by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection include habitat restoration (removal of downed debris, control of invasives, planting of fungus resistant and salt tolerant trees the birds will use) and protection of the reduced nesting habitat that still exists. This is one of less than a handful of islands in Connecticut that supports nesting by the state threatened Snowy and Great Egrets and as such the Natural Area Preserve and State Park are recognized by Audubon as an Important Bird Area.
Patrick M. Comins, Director of Bird Conservation, Audubon Connecticut
Phone: (203)405-9115 http://ct.audubon.org/
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