Along this part of the trail, look for a forest of mature deciduous trees.
Hardwood Deciduous Forests
Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects nest and hibernate in cavities of large trees. Even young trees offer much needed resting spots for migrating birds. Living, hollow trees provide den sites for many animals, including black bear.
In addition to shelter, trees provide an important food source for many animals. Spring flowering trees, such as the tulip poplar, provide nectar and pollen for insects and some birds as well. The leaves of our native forest trees nurture the caterpillars of some of our most beautiful butterflies, including the eastern tiger swallowtail, Virginia's state insect. Likewise, an array of birds feed on these caterpillars and other invertebrates hatching in the treetops each spring as the leaves emerge.
Fruit production becomes a critical food source as the season progresses. Red maple comes early, with black cherry and the wild grapes maturing as summer ends and dogwoods providing an important food source as migration begins. "Mast," most notably acorns produced by oaks, provide a reliable and abundant food source for squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, foxes, wood ducks, mallards, blue jays, and turkey. Even woodpeckers enjoy acorns during fall and winter when other food is scarce. Other varieties of nut-producing trees important to wildlife include hickories, walnuts, hazelnuts and beeches.