In the forest, as in the rest of life, we look for validation – don’t we? But what does it look like? What forms really matter to us?
Early on the morning of June 9th, in the Mt. Richmond Forest, we heard a form of validation that we have been listening and hoping for for at least fifteen years – the call of a White-breasted Nuthatch.
At 6:05 AM on this calm, clear, mild morning, expert birder Lori Hennings heard the call. For the past 20 years we have been actively restoring (saving) the Oregon white oak in the forest by removing the fir that overtops and kills the oak by stealing the light they depend on. Through all of these years we have wondered to ourselves and others “will these oak stands really make any difference, or are they just too small and isolated?”. How might we know? The birds will tell us – if we know how to listen. In this region there are two bird species that are dependent on and associated with the 5% of the original oak stands in the Willamette Valley that still remain – Acorn Woodpecker and White-breasted nuthatch. Going back to validation, we are heartened when fellow two leggeds come to the forest and express enthusiasm for what they find, but this form of validation pales in comparison to at last hearing the bird’s call early last Tuesday morning. “Build it and they will come” misses the mark, but “help create it and they might come” comes closer. They did come and we hope that they might be tweeting the news of useful habitat to their friends and family. Now, how about that woodpecker…….?