As you wander along this next stretch of trail, you’ll probably notice how dark it has become in places. You seem to be walking through a tunnel of trees, with a full canopy above and to the sides of you.
Although this area was logged decades ago, it has slowly reverted to a mature maple forest. This type of habitat is perfect for the stunning Scarlet Tanager. Tanagers are mostly tropical birds, and this species certainly looks like it belongs with its gaudily coloured cousins to the south. Scarlet Tanagers are neon red in colour and have black wings and tail. They spend most of their time in the high canopy, so it is easy to miss them. Here at Barnum Creek Nature Reserve, they are commonly seen or heard in this type of habitat. As you walk, listen for their distinctive “chik-bree” call notes from May to September. Only the males sing, however, giving burry phrases somewhat like a robin with a sore throat. Scarlet Tanagers are sensitive to habitat fragmentation and require large tracts of undisturbed forest to breed successfully. Barnum Creek, with its extensive forest cover, offers this in dividends.
Ovenbirds, ground nesting warblers that make a nest reminiscent of a Dutch oven, seem to sing from every direction. Their loud, repeated “tea-CHER, tea-CHER, tea-CHER” song is hard to ignore. Signs of White-tailed Deer abound. Look for signs of browse or pellets as you stroll.
These extensive tracts of forest not only provide excellent habitat for a myriad of species, but also store massive amounts of carbon. The result is that these areas play an important role in building resilience to climate change.