Dead trees (called snags) provide important habitat for many species of wildlife. Woodpeckers often use snags as a source of their insect diet. They also drill holes (cavities) in live and dead trees which they use for nesting. The cavities that they create are important nest sites for a number of other cavity-nesting species that don’t have the ability to make holes in trees; these include chickadees, bluebirds, and kestrels. Snags also provide den sites (both nesting and wintering) for many mammal species. Squirrels, raccoons, and even bears use snags for dens.
If a dead tree is not posing a threat to your home or other buildings, consider leaving it, or only cutting off the most dangerous branches. If you DO need to cut down a dead or unwanted tree, do it in the fall - right now - well after the nesting season is done and before most mammals begin using trees for winter dens. So remember, if you can’t leave it, don’t fell it ‘til fall! You can contact the Center with any questions you may have regarding wildlife in your yard.