Safe Wood Guide

Acacia, Almond, Apple, Arbutus, Ash, Aspen, Bamboo, Beech,*Birch, Citrus, Cottonwood, Crab Apple, Dogwood, Elm, Fig, Fir, Fruitless Mulberry, Ginkgo, Grape Vines, Grape Palm, Guava, Hackberry, Hawthorn, Hazelnut, Hibiscus, Hickory, Ironwood, Larch, Lilac, Liquidamber Madrona, Magnolia, Manzanita, Maple, Mediterranean Laurel, Mesquite, Mimosa, Mulberry, Norfolk Island Pine, Palm, Papaya, Pear, Pecan, Pine, Poplar, Ribbonwood, Rose, Sassafras, Spruce, Sweet Gum,  Sycamore, Thurlow, Tree Fern, Umbrella Tree, Vine Maple, Walnut, Willow.

The woods we use are shown above in Green, which are also links to their Latin names and further information so there is no mistaking their correct identification

Unsafe & Toxic Wood

Apricot – Unsafe, Bois d'arc – Unsafe, Box Elder – Toxic, Cherry – Unsafe, Chinese Popcorn - Toxic , Chinese Snake Tree – Toxic, Chinese Tallow – Toxic, Crepe Myrtle – Toxic, Eucalyptus – Unsafe, Hemlock – Toxic, Holly – Toxic, Horse Apple – Unsafe, Laurel – Toxic, Nectarine – Unsafe, Oak -Unsafe, Peach – Unsafe, Pitch pine – Toxic, Plum – Unsafe, Prune – Unsafe, Redwood – Toxic, Sequoia – Unsafe, Sitka Cedar – Unsafe, Yellow Cedar – Unsafe, Yew –Toxic

Disclaimer

Unfortunately, while there is a lot of assertion on the internet that this or that is/is not safe and only a little balanced assessment, it seems very difficult to find authoritive substantiation of the claims.

Therefore the information above, was culled from searching the internet, use it as a handy starting guide but it is always advisable to do further searches if you are in any doubt.


Beech

Latin name: Fagus Sylvatica  (Common Beech)

Family: Fagaceae

We class this as a hard wood.

Fagus sylvatica, the European beech or common beech, is a large impressive tree with smooth bark. It was one of the last native trees to colonise Britain. 

For us this is a super hardwood and due to the smooth easy to clean bark it is also ideal for aviaries and outdoor flights.

 


Birch

Latin name: Betula pendula   (Silver Birch)

Latin name: Betula pubescens   (Downy Birch)

Family: Betulaceae

We class this as a hard wood.

We use both types of Birch with the Downy being more dominant in Scotland.

*The LEAVES and BARK contain salicylates as well as some principles that have hemolytic properties (destroys red blood cells). The low concentration of salicylates in the birch BARK is unlikely to cause toxicity in avians. Salicylates can be given to avians as an analgesic. The WOOD of birch (Betula sp) is used for such things as ice cream and Popsicle sticks as well as for toys. Removing the bark would eliminate any exposure to salicylates. Birch branches should be considered safe for natural wood perches and toys.

We remove all leaves & bark as a safety precaution.

One of the most familiar trees of the British countryside, the graceful silver birch is a genuine native, growing here since the end of the Ice Age. Its papery-white bark – almost pink in young trees – distinguishes it from the downy birch (Betula pubescens) which has reddish bark that turns grey with age and is usually found in wetter habitats in the uplands.

The Birch has high conservation value. The light, open canopy with spaced, small leaves give light shade on the woodland floor. This allows varied ground flora especially mosses, grasses and flowering plants to grow.

This means plenty of food for a wide range of insects, birds and many other animals. The Chaffinch, Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler, and Robin are characteristic to Birch woodlands.  You may also find the Woodcock, Nightingale, Woodpecker or Redpoll.

Although birch woodlands are essential habitats they can become prolific colonisers of grassland and heathland habitats. When this occurs the young trees are classed as a weed and eradication of the scrub is essential to protect existing landscapes. Here in Scotland in particular where Heather regeneration is of the upmost importance.


Hazel

Latin name: Corylus avellana

Family: Betulaceae

We class this as a hard wood.

A lovely native British tree, occurring in hedgerows and woodlands where it is an important component of the understory.

Frequently coppiced to provide poles for a variety of uses, it is noted as a safe wood for companion birds and of immense importance to the woodland wildlife for its edible leaves and fruit.

Coppicing allows the shrub to constantly renew itself. The ‘stool’ (the base of the plant that remains uncut) is the only part of the plant that reaches any great age.

Coppicing is very good for wildlife, as it opens the woodland floor to more light and lets the amazing variety of spring flowers bloom, like lesser celandine, wood anemones, bluebells, wood sorrels and dog violets. Dog violet is an important food plant for caterpillars of fritillary butterflies.

 


 Larch, Pine & Spruce

Latin name: Larix decidua    (Common Larch)

Latin name: Pinus sylvestris  ( Scots Pine)

Latin name: Picea sitchensis   (Sitka Spruce)

Family: Pinaceae

We class this as a semi-hard wood, although spruce is slightly softer than pine.

The Pinaceae family encompasses a large group of trees and are noted to be safe for companion birds. We have listed the most common species of trees that we will use above.

Common Larch

This species is the only deciduous conifer native to Europeand was introduced to Britain sometime around 1620 for its timber and became the first conifer to be planted in large scale plantations. The timber is hard and rot resistant and was used for a great range of uses in the past and still has a commercial use today. 

Scots Pine 

Native pinewoods are confined to Scotland, referred to here as Caledonian forests, where they support a unique assemblage of wildlife, including species that cannot survive in plantations of alien spices. In particular the Scottish Crossbill is found nowhere else in the world, it’s bill adapted to extract Scots Pine seeds from the cones.

Other species associated with these native forests include, Crested Tit, Capercaillie, Red Squirrel & Pine Marten.

Sitka Spruce

Sitka Spruce introduced to Britain in 1831, can grow close together to make a very dense canopy.  It is difficult for sunlight to find its way through to the woodland floor so few plants can grow underneath them. Sitka Spruce do, however, give excellent shelter from wind, rain, cold and sometimes the heat of the sun. Larger animals such as deer and foxes like to find cover amongst the branches. Birds of prey, like Goshawks and Sparrow hawks can find excellent nesting and hunting sites on and around the Sitka Spruce. Smaller birds such as the Crossbill, Tree Creeper, Coal tit and Siskin also enjoy living and feeding around the Sitka Spruce.


Sycamore

Latin name: Acer Pseudoplatanus

Family: Aceraceae

We class this as a hard wood.

A fast growing and vigorous tree which has naturalised inBritain and it is noted as a safe wood for companion birds.

Sycamore can be evasive and dominate woodlands to the exclusion of all else if left unchecked. Consequently, it is often viewed by conservationists as an unwelcome alien and managed as such. However it does have a few virtues from a wildlife point of view. Notably it supports a rich aphid community which in turn supports insect eating birds and Dormice.

Sycamore timber is a pale buffish white, with little grain and is hard and strong. Because the wood does not taint food it is particularly useful for kitchen utensils such as spoons, breadboards and bowls.


Willow (Goat Willow)

Latin name: Salix caprea

Family: Salicaceae

We class this as a soft wood.

With it’s smooth bark it is easily cleaned and made safe for birds to strip, even with the bark striped to show it’s natural beauty it is still excellent for chewers.

A widespread and common native species in Britain occurring in hedgerows and woodlands and scrub which it is noted as a safe wood for companion birds.

This is another great tree for Coppicing which allows the shrub to constantly renew itself and Willow is a very fast regenerator. Coppicing is also very good for wildlife, as it opens the woodland floor to more light and lets the amazing variety of spring flowers bloom which benefit a whole host of insects and birds.

An extremely important species in ecological terms, serving as a food plant for the larval or adult stages of a large number of insects. It is particularly noted for the number of  species of Lepidoptera ( a large order of insects that include moths and butterflies)  that are associated with it. The Purple Emperor Butterfly will feed on nothing less.