The dominating residents of a forest are the trees. Deciduous trees loose their leaves in fall, while coniferous or cone-bearing trees are evergreen. Many forests are composed of only one of these types. At the Nature Center many of the forests are mixed.
Hemlock, Spruce and Pine shelter wildlife from snow and wind and their cones and needles are food and nest lining. Deciduous trees such as maple, birch, beech and oak supply animals with fruits, nuts and tender buds; leaves for nests; shade and cover.
In the shade beneath the forest canopy, shrubs, wildflowers, mosses, ferns, lichens, and fungi thrive in the moisture and shade created by the trees. As leaves, branches and trees fall to the forest floor, the materials are quickly used for homes or food. As they decay, the soil is nourished for new life and growth. Beetles, and other insects inhabit the inner recesses of totting wood. Fungi and bacteria feed on the dead fibers.
Earthworms and millipedes digest the rotting leaves and help turn them into rich soil from which mosses ferns and wildflowers can grow. A woodpecker taps on the bark of a fallen log to find insects living within, while underneath in the dark moisture salamanders and slugs search for food and protection from the sun.
At the nature center the wooded areas support deer, fox, squirrels, raccoon, skunk, porcupine, weasel, bear, snowshoe hare, coyote, mice and a variety of birds. There are three recognizable forests at the Center: the Pine stands near Peeper Pond and the Sensory Trail; the Sugarbush; and the Hemlock–Northern Hardwood mixture.
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Text/art:Green Mountain Audubon Society
A Nature of Place Project