The Pros and Cons of Tree Hollows

What They Are, How They Help & How They Hurt


Usually, when there’s a giant hole in something it’s a sign of damage or decay. However, tree hollows, or naturally formed holes, have many benefits. Learn more about these natural wonders, how helpful they are, and what you should be cautious about.

What are Tree Hollows

Tree hollows can form in many different species of older trees, living or not. Too much stress on the tree caused by wind, fire, lighting, rain, or other natural occurrences can lead to an exposed area of a branch or trunk. Hollows can also be the result of self-pruning—when trees drop lower branches as they grow and mature.

However they’re formed, tree hollows are a welcome sight in forests and wooded areas since they act as a resource or habitat for a number of woodland creatures. Like many new tenants, animals make the hollows their own by using their beak, teeth, or claws.

Benefits of Tree Hollows

Whether a tree is still standing or it’s already fallen in the woods, its hollow cavity still provides important shelter for a variety of species. Fallen timber becomes a home for ground-dwelling animals and reptiles. In streams, hollow logs offer a place for aquatic animals to live and lay eggs. Higher hollows in taller trees give birds a place of refuge.

From nocturnal shelter sites to feeding and rearing young, hollows are used for different things depending on the tree, location, species, and climate. Animals select a hollow based on size, shape, depth, and insulation.

Tree Hollow Problems

Even though a tree hollow can happen naturally and be useful in many ways, you should still be cautious, especially if it’s a much older tree close to any important structures. Hollows are still gaping cavities in trunks and branches and could cause damage if anything were to fall.

Since they attract animal tenants, also be wary of how close it is to your house. Any creature could decide to relocate someplace warmer, like your attic or basement. Even birds living in the tree can do damage to whatever is under it, like lawn furniture or parked cars.

If you have to remove a tree with a hollow, try to replace it with a nearby birdhouse or other similar space to give animals another option for shelter. Keep the natural balance in the environment for everyone’s wellbeing.

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