The Great Horned Owl

great-horned-owl-744357_960_720The Great Horned Owl is the largest owl found in Indiana. A mature owl will grow up to 1 ½ to 2 feet tall with a wingspan from 3 to 5 feet across. Their name originates due to their long, “horn-like” feathers on their heads. These large owls can be found throughout North and South America. Their mottled color tone varies from each region’s environment, from a dark soot pattern to a white pattern.

Like many owls, they are passive during the daylight hours and nocturnally active during the night hours. Most of their hunting activity peaks after sunset and before sunrise. They hunt mainly from a high vantage point scanning the area for prey. Their eyes cannot move in their sockets, but instead their heads swivel more than 180 degrees to look in any direction. Their diet consists of mostly small mammals and birds, but can hunt 2 to 3 times its size. Their short but broad wings allow them to fly with great maneuverability, and their extremely soft feathers make it nearly impossible to hear them during flight. On large prey, they dig their talons into their backs to sever the spine to immobilize their prey.

Great Horned Owls can live up to 13 years in the wild. They are known for their deep ‘hooting’ call, usually 4 to 5 stuttering hoots. Many people enjoy replicating their call and watching them curiously flying into view.

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Black Walnut

walnut-1505359__340From early settlement through today Walnut has been the premier Midwestern hardwood.  Typically the most valuable tree in a woods, Walnut’s rich brown heartwood and pleasing grain pattern isn’t only desired in the United States but around the world.  This is particularly true in countries that demand excellence like Japan and Germany.

Walnut is used in many high-end products.  The highest quality logs are used to produce veneer.  Veneer making is the process in which a log is shaved into thin sheets and applied over more mundane surfaces.  The lumber from regular logs are manufactured into products such as high quality furniture, flooring, and gunstocks.  Walnut’s white sapwood has little initial market value but Pike Lumber Company implements a process known as “steaming” that darkens the sapwood creating a uniform finish.

Walnut has a large geographical range across most the eastern United States but a narrow range of suitable soils where it grows well.  Walnut prefers deep, rich, moist but well drained soils, and often is found by streams.  Some of the world’s best Walnut growing soils are found in Indiana and the surrounding states.  Located in the center of prime Walnut country, Pike Lumber Company, has over a century of experience in dealing with this valuable resource and is a major player in the world’s Walnut market. Let us assist you in managing the Walnut in your woods.

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Kentucky Coffeetree

Close-up-of-Coffee-Tree-pod-with-seeds.-Schmitz-and-Carstens-photoKentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) is a rare tree species in the woods of Indiana. It is most often found in small patches on limestone outcroppings and bottomland
soils, and has scaly, irregular, light-gray bark that curls up slightly at the edges. The leaves are large, up to 3 feet in length. Each leaf has one central stem with several branching stems that bear the small leaflets, which can number more than 100.

Throughout the year on female trees, you will find the short, thick seed pods containing 4-8 beans which give the tree its name. These large roundish beans, the size of a nickel, were roasted by settlers and ground as a poor substitute for coffee. The beans must be roasted
first to remove their natural toxins and the pods are also toxic.

Native Americans are reported to have placed large quantities in streams and lakes to kill fish for food. Some scientists also believe that the trees were spread by pre-historic mammoths eating and partially digesting the seeds. This would explain why the tree is so rare. Now that the mammoth is extinct, there is no very large wildlife to
eat these seeds, thereby starting new populations.

The lumber of this tree is reddish brown like Cherry, with grain similar to Red Oak.
While the lumber is sturdy, easy to work, and rot resistant, due to lack of supply,
the normal market for this lumber is for craft and hobby wood.

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Pike Lumber Company’s “Axe-Men”

CaptureAlthough it may seem to be only good entertainment, the national television shows that portray logging hit close to home for those at Pike.  Our Ax-Men in particular can attest to the grueling nature of the job of being a full-time logger.  Most of Pike’s timber cutters enjoy recreating in the outdoors; they also happen to make a living working in the outdoors.

The timber cutters face long, physically demanding days working through varying extremes of weather, along with numerous safety hazards.  Our Ax-Men also play a vital role in Pike’s long-term sustainable management of forestland.  The goal is to safely fell trees while minimizing adverse impacts and protecting soil, water, wildlife, recreational, and scenic values.  The quality of our work is greatly credited to our loggers.

Through the Indiana Forest Industry Council, Pike loggers are trained in Best Management Practices for Water Quality.  Pike’s Ax-Men are also trained in directional felling, product utilization, chainsaw and skidder operation/maintenance, proper safety precautions, and first aid.  With extensive training and experience behind them, our Ax-Men take great pride in their work.


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The Eastern Box Turtle

shutterstock_329907089Woodland owners have the privilege of discovering the many fascinating animals that live here in the Midwest. One such species is the Eastern Box Turtle. Box turtles are categorized as the “Land Turtles.” They are commonly found throughout deciduous forests. The forest floors offer perfect moisture and provide good drainage in bottomland and foot-slope areas offering the best habitat. Box turtles are known to take baths in streams, ponds, and lakes. During the hot summer months, they often submerge in mud for days at a time in order to stay cool.

As opposed to the many neutral-colored animals, box turtles are known for their unique and colorful designs. The shell has a black background with random yellow-colored lines, spots, and blotches. The shells are made up of plates which continuously grow throughout the turtle’s life. Each year the plates grow a new layer or growth ring. It is common for a box turtle to live to be 25 to 30 years old, and can sometimes reach 40 to 50 years old.

A box turtle’s diet consist of earthworms, grubs, snails, fallen fruit, berries, and mushrooms. Because they are known to eat poisonous mushrooms, box turtles are not edible to humans. Box turtles live amongst down debris on the forest floor where food and cover is plentiful.

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Bees & Basswood Trees

IMG_0988 bee closer2During spring, the silent flowering Basswood tree commonly goes unnoticed to us, but not to the bees.  Basswoods produce fragrant, yellow flowers that dangle precariously underneath the heart shaped leaves.  Basswoods that bloom during May and July, produce prolific amounts of nectar that is favored by wandering bees.  Bees also help pollinate favored crops such as apples, squash, and pumpkins.  When bees are abundant, the beekeepers are busy tending hives and harvesting the light, delicious honey.

Basswood’s fall seed crop feeds wildlife such as mice, squirrels, and chipmunks as they prepare for winter.  During winter, deer and rabbits rely heavily on its tender seedlings and stump sprouts for food and cover.  In the latter part of its life, Basswoods often hollow out, creating new spaces for bee hives and bird nests.

It is advised to selectively open gaps in the dense canopy to allow seedlings and saplings underneath to retrieve light and grow into healthy Basswoods.  With this light, the next generation of your forest can vigorously grow into the strong flowering trees of tomorrow.


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