Oaks are at the pinnacle of wildlife value. There are several factors contributing to the overwhelming impact of Oaks in our ecosystems. Along with caterpillars, they also host many other insect species such as beetles and arthropods. These insects all like to feed on the foliage and other parts of the tree. It should be noted that these insects rarely cause damage to the point of needing treatment.
These various insects draw in insectivorous birds like Warblers and Tanagers. The fruit of the oak is their signature acorn, relied upon by a variety of wildlife species. The acorn is a key component to the winter diet of many birds, like blue jays and woodpeckers.
Oaks are split into two different groups, the Red Oak Group, and the White Oak Group. In general, the white oaks produce leaves that have rounded lobes whereas red oaks generally produce leaves with pointed lobes. The acorns in the White Oak Group have less tannin in their acorns than members of the Red Oak Group. This means that the acorns in the White Oak Group are less bitter and are seen as a tastier snack to wildlife. More than 180 different kinds of birds and mammals use acorns as food, including turkey, duck, crows, quail, mice, and chipmunks.
While many oaks share similar qualities, the plethora of species and cultivars have unique characteristics as well.