Dead wood

Autor: Dorota Zielińska    

Many species of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles find refuge in dead wood. They can sleep there, bring up young ones and get through the winter. Small animals can hide from predators in the stacks of branches, and birds can safely nest there. For example, newts and bog frogs spend the winter in the decaying tree trunks. Birds, and in particular woodpeckers, look for feed in the dead wood and places for nesting hollows. Bats also use the hollows. Woodpeckers, owls, titmice, starlings and flycatcher birds like to live here. Old hollow willow trees are habitual living quarters of a rare little owl and colourful hoopoe. Our smallest woodpecker, the mid-sized one and the largest black woodpecker are among the species found at Warsaw’s Vistula, which readily look for hollows in the dead wood. Because nearly all the woodpecker’s hollows are pecked anew every year, the demand for dead wood is very big. Lack of them can seriously limit the size of the population of these birds which are very useful to man. This is particularly so since dead wood and dead parts of living trees constitute about 70% of places of prey for most of the woodpecker species.

When trees fall down hollows are formed, which are also an important hiding place for animals. Little wrens, grey streaked flycatchers, robins and various mockingbirds like to nest there.
Dead wood helps various species of mushrooms to survive, thanks to which there is a greater variety of them in the forest.

A forest really lives only when there is dead wood in it. That is why currently many countries undertake special activities to increase the amount of dead wood in their forests.

The project ‘Protecting the habitats of priority bird species of the Vistula Valley under conditions of intensive pressure of the Warsaw agglomeration’ ( has received a grant from the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE+) and from the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.