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Silent Summer

When I was younger I loved hiking for the challenge and the spectacular scenery. Now in my ripe old age I have come to appreciate the other wonderful things that it has to offer. The smell of balsam as you near the peaks in the Appalachians. The march of ants on the forest floor. The beam of "God's Light" through the canopy. The howl of the wind. 

You get it.

One thing my wife and I have come to particularly love is bird watching and listening. We see a good many here out east. One reason I was so enthused to head west in June was to see the birdlife out there. And indeed, driving through the Prairie Potholes of North Dakota was a bird-bounty as were several other destinations. I'll put up a favorite video of mine from the trip shortly. But I, too, was really excited to hit the mountain forests for the chance to see and hear some songbirds that do not show up out east. 

I should have known better. While mountain bluebirds flourished in many places, particularly in the places that had burned in recent years, the panoply of warblers, vireos, sparrows, and other birds I had expected to see was not there. Were they dead? Was I wrong to expect that they would be there? Well, yes and no.

In my childish head, I couldn't help but think that visiting really thick, deep, dark forests would be a perfect place for birds. But gosh how wrong I was. There were periods on hikes where there was NO bird sound to be heard for miles. None! 

Why? Forest management policy that includes fire suppression has led to many overgrown sections of forest – with so many trees so closely packed together that there is virtually no light or life on the forest floor. Many of these old, mature trees had lost most of their branches as well. So there is little food on the ground and few good places for birds to make nests and roost. Hence, a quiet summer out west. 

This is all a lead-in to a far more interesting tale of forest management, but I'll leave us here for now. They call that a teaser in the business. I know that word makes me queasy. 

One Response to “Silent Summer”

  1. Speedmaster says:

    [Silent Spring joke goes here]

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