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Home » Santa Clarita News » Environment » SCV Outdoor Report » SCV Outdoor Report: Brush Your Teeth

SCV Outdoor Report: Brush Your Teeth

By Wendy Langhans

As a parent, I remember asking our 5-year-old-daughter the
question:  "Did you brush your
teeth?"  Sometimes I can still hear my
mother's voice in my head, warning me "if you don't brush, your teeth will fall
out".  The sight of Grampa's dentures
made that threat all too real.


But what about the world of nature.  Do birds, who eat with their beaks, ever
brush their "teeth"?  Technically, they
don't, since modern birds lost their teeth when they developed beaks, about 70-80
million years ago


But what about brushing their beaks?  Is that necessary?  I recently came across a study about
woodpeckers, which claims that 60%
of birds
who nest in tree cavities carry wood-inhabiting fungi and fungal
spores in their beaks. 




At first glance, it sounds like they could use a bit of
"oral hygene" after drilling into dead wood in search of insects.  That's because – when they drill holes – they
also deposit fungal spores inside the tree. 
These spores germinate and grow into a fungus, which eats away at the
dead wood, much like the acid from the bacteria on your teeth eats away at your
tooth enamel.


But – there's more to this story – for unlike the
cavity-producing bacteria in your mouth, this fungus serves a useful
purpose.  Unless the dead wood decays,
the woodpecker can't excavate nest cavities. 
These cavities provide homes to all sorts of animals, from tree
squirrels to bees to woodpeckers.



Everyone knows you should brush your teeth.  It's common knowledge – passed down through
the generations.  But now I wonder…
mother woodpeckers remind their chicks NOT to brush?



Upcoming Outdoor Events: 


Saturday, January 17, 8:00-10:00
AM.  Morning Bird Hike in Towsley
Canyon.  Towsley
Canyon is a year-round home for
birds.  They like our Mediterranean
climate, the local bounty and the California
sunshine.  Bring your binoculars and meet
at the entrance.  Heavy rain
cancels.  For map and directions go here.

Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation


Saturday, January 24, 10-12
AM.  Fire Ecology Hike in Wilson

Heavy rain cancels – call the day before to confirm
(310-858-7272 x 115).  For map and
directions go here.

Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation


Saturday, January 24th, and every Wednesday, 8:00 AM.  Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley Canyon.

Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderie
and a heart-thumping workout.  For more information contact Steve Ioerger at 661-291-1565.



Watershed website to check out: 


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has an interesting
website where you can "Surf your Watershed". 
Here's an example, using our local Santa Clara
River watershed:




You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report",
brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the
Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for
trail maps, click here or go to

SCV Outdoor Report: Brush Your Teeth

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