“Woodsman, spare that snag.” A standing dead tree is called a snag. Many landowners make plans to drop a snag promptly post mortem. Wildlife biologist Joel D. Glover suggests, “Have you ever considered the benefits of a dead tree?”
Dropping a dead tree is logical if it is positioned to threaten people or property. However, a snag is a natural and necessary part of the woods. In forested habitats cavity-nesting birds may account for 30-45 percent of the total bird population. Snags are essential for nesting, roosting, and foraging; snags are a rich source of food.
Woodpeckers are the primary excavators of the snag real estate, and the cavities they create can have a long life span with a variety of tenants. Bird species include: Chickadees, bluebirds, wood ducks, titmice, great crested flycatchers, nuthatches, barred owls, screech owls, and kestrels. Other critters include: Bats, gray squirrels, fox squirrels, flying squirrels, raccoons, frogs, snakes, honeybees, wasps and spiders.
Manage your woodlot for a variety of habitats. An absence of suitable snags can be a limiting factor on the balance of nature. If you decide to make your own, snags should be large and well distributed using both hard and soft woods.