Fire Birds

Fire cycle

This month I have been interested in fires and how some birds depend on them. To learn more about fire-dependent birds. I asked Papa if he could get me a book from the library. Last week when we went to the library, Papa went to the reserved section of the library and came back with a book called Fire Birds by Sneed Collard. It is about how and why some birds are very plentiful after a forest fire. Sneed Collard is an author and a birder. I recognized his name instantly because I had seen it before on eBird! In a few weeks I will see him talk and I am very excited!

Wildfires have been very active in Montana this summer because it is hotter than other years, as a result, there is a greater chance a lightning bolt will hit a dry tree. Most natural caused fires are made when lightning hits a tree causing the tree to light on fire which quickly spreads, creating a forest fire.There are many different types of fires, there are grass fires, and forest fires for an example, so be careful that you’re seeing the one that you’re saying! I have seen a grass fire by the Osprey nest on Rock Creek Road, and a forest fire on the mountain by our cabin. Any fire in the wild is considered a wildfire. I have also seen fire in the wood stove. Not many people think fires have benefits, but there really are a lot. Wildfires clear out invasive species, dead trees, and provide space for new life. When wildfires burn down forests, they make room for seedlings to grow. Fires also make fire weed more abundant.

Black-backed Woodpecker

Many birds benefit from fires, these birds are considered firebirds. Wildfires make cavities, so cavity nesting species such as woodpeckers, increase. The Black-backed Woodpecker is one of the few birds that depends fully on wildfires. All woodpeckers in Montana are considered firebirds because they eat the fire beetles, take shelter there, and use the hollows created by the fire to raise young. Chickadees, nuthatches, wrens, bluebirds, and the tree swallow also benefit from fires because of the very plentiful cavities. Many birds come to feast on fire beetles and their larvae after a wildfire. Below is a list of Firebirds from the book Firebirds by Sneed Collard. They are the Calliope hummingbird, Rufous hummingbird, Williamson sapsucker, Western wood Pewee, Dusky flycatcher, Tree swallow, Gray Jay, Mountain Chickadee, Red-breasted nuthatch, Rock wren, Swainson’s thrush, MacGillivray’s warbler, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Dark-eyed junco, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Pine siskin.

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