Sarah, Andie, and I spent last weekend at the Oregon coast conducting our dead bird surveys and scouting our upcoming Birdathon trip. We did not find any dead birds on our Saturday survey at Sand Lake (good news for the birds!), so we drove north to Cape Meares, where the state's newly-crowned largest Sitka spruce now resides.
The former title holder, the Klootchy Creek Giant, was broken in a December storm.
The new Champion Spruce has a broken top, a 3 meter-or-so diameter trunk, and a massive horizontal branch that looks bigger than most trees we saw when we lived in Oklahoma.
The huge branch looks like one of Popeye's arms and is a nursery for small trees and shrubs.
Western hemlock, salal, licorice ferns, and other plants grow as epiphytes on the branch, along the trunk, and in other nooks and crannies hidden along the Giant.
Who knows how many animals are harbored up there as well?
Since it is quite a bit smaller than the Klootchy Creek Giant was in its prime, the Cape Meares Giant is not Oregon's largest tree, which is apparently a Douglas fir on the south coast. The Cape Meares Giant is 144 feet tall and is estimated to be 750 to 800 years old. After enjoying our time the Giant's presence, we drove down to the Cape Meares Lighthouse to watch the seabirds preparing for their nesting season on the rocks and cliffs.