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Wild Neighbours: Part Two of Chipps’ Guide to the Urban Forest

In the second installment of Chipps’ Tree Care’s guide to Edmonton’s urban forest, we turn to the urban ecosystem, especially the wildlife that lives in our backyards. Living in a city so close to the hinterland, we have to put up with pests like the recently moved-in raccoon and Edmonton’s old nemesis, the coyote. However, trees also provide a habitat for birds like horned owls and woodpeckers, not to providing a food source for the white-tailed deer that sometimes wander out of the parks. The parks system of the North Saskatchewan River Valley is home to a huge biodiversity and hosts animals from deer and coyotes to muskrats and beavers. Of course, there are also the creatures living in the trees and shrubs of our own backyards.

According to the Edmonton Sun, there are 54 kinds of mammals and hundreds of different bird species in the city. A lush canopy is necessary for a thriving bird population, as it provides both a food source and a nesting place for many. Blue jays, for example, nest in both coniferous and deciduous species, and are frequently found in residential neighbourhoods where they thrive off of seeds from birdfeeders, nuts, and leftover people food. Porcupines survive off of tree bark and pine needles through the winter months, whereas their diet consists of nuts, leaves, and berries in the summer. Great horned owls, who take over the old nests of other birds, are also great predators for keeping pest populations down. Mice are one of their favourite foods in addition to the occasional skunk (this bird does not have a great sense of smell!).

The growth of suburban neighbourhoods into former agricultural or wilderness lands means that Edmontonians are encountering wildlife ever more often. Maintaining a healthy and rich urban forest is one of the better ways to live side-by-side with so much of the wildlife usually displaced by development. It may not always be a peaceful coexistence, but keeping plenty of natural habitat around can mean that birds, squirrels, and raccoons will be less likely to use your attics and eaves to make their nests.

The ISA-certified arborists at Chipps aren’t just experts in removals and stump grinding; we’re also pros at tree pruning and maintenance. Pruning is a preventative measure taken to keep branches from growing into power lines or moving too close to the house. It’s also a care technique that improves the health of deciduous and coniferous species alike. We remove dying branches that have been damaged during ice or windstorms and prune to improve the overall branch structure. It takes decades for young elms and ashes to grow up into maturity, providing shade, shelter, and wildlife habitat. The smart way to prolong the lives of spruces, ashes, and elms on your property is regular care and pruning from arborists trained in low-impact rigging.

Despite the odd, over-turned garbage bin and the occasional run-in with a coyote, it’s impossible to hear birds in the morning without thinking that wildlife might be a good thing to have in the city. Fortunately, Edmonton has hundreds of thousands of ashes, pines, spruces, larches, elms, and more, all of them working as shelter and food in our city’s ecosystem. Contact Chipps expert arborists if you need a consultation on caring for trees on your property. You can do your part to keep Edmonton green.