trees are still growing on these
farms. These farms collectively
create more than 350,000 acres
of Christmas tree mini-forests.
(There are another 76,000 acres
of such mini-forests in Canada.)
It also can take as long as 15
years to grow a tree to a desired
height (usually 6 to 7 feet) or as
little as 4 years for smaller trees,
but the average growing time is
7 to 8 years. Frankly, that is a lot
of land kept in green space and
busy absorbing carbon from the
states include Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan,
Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Locally grown trees are probably
the best choice for the environment, and even the disposal of
the trees can have advantages.
Many counties and cities collect
natural trees after Christmas,
turning them into compost and
mulch, often redistributed to area
residents or used in public parks.
For birders, trees of different species (including blue and
Norway spruce, scotch pine, and
Douglas fir) and different heights
can provide important habitat for
feeding and nesting birds. Many
birds benefit, depending on location, the age of the trees, and the
amount of ground trimming.
Some birds using the just-cut
stubble or low-level trees—at least
in the East—include American
BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER ’17 •
height tree-fields for nesting, and
other common nesters—Ameri-
can robins, field sparrows, purple
finches, and American gold-
finches—will either have no height
preference or prefer the taller
trees. Migrating and wintering
saw-whet owls are not uncommon
on Christmas tree farms. If you
are concerned with nesting protec-
tion, the Christmas-tree harvest
obviously occurs well after nesting
season has ended!