Pileated woodpeckers and black bears forage for insects in the decaying wood. Raccoons, bobcats, foxes and other mammals make their dens in fallen hollow logs.
Young trees also may sprout from a downed log, known as a “nurse log.” In addition, dead wood serves as a ground cover, lessening soil erosion and preventing animals such as deer from overbrowsing plant seedlings.
So, in my mind, a decaying log is a beautiful thing in the forest.
In the sky: The South Taurid meteor shower will be visible all weekend and will reach a peak Saturday night of 15 meteors per hour, said David Dundee, an astronomer with the Tellus Science Museum. Look to the east from midnight until dawn.
Another meteor shower, the Leonid, will be visible most of next week, with the best viewing nights Tuesday and Wednesday. Look to the east from about 2 a.m. until dawn. The shower will peak at 15 meteors per hour. The light of the moon, though, may interfere with observing fainter meteors.
The moon will be last quarter on Friday. Mercury and Venus are low in the west just after sunset. Mars rises about four hours before sunrise. Jupiter rises out of the east at about sunset. Saturn rises out of the east about two hours before sunrise.