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Nest-site selection and nesting ecology of red-headed woodpeckers.
Waldstein, Ariane Lentz (2012)

Nest-site selection and nesting ecology of red-headed woodpeckers.

Issue Date

Thesis or Dissertation

Red-headed woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) were once a common and widespread species in the Midwest but have declined sharply in the last 40 years. This species is a Minnesota Species of Greatest Conservation Need and an oak-savanna specialist; its decline is ascribed to severe habitat loss throughout the Upper Midwest. Despite numerous oak savanna restoration efforts throughout Minnesota, populations continue to decline, and most restoration sites have failed to attract red-headed woodpeckers. Most restoration focuses on prescribed fire but few studies have examined red-headed woodpecker habitat use and nest success in a long-term managed landscape. This thesis explores red-headed woodpecker nest-site selection and distribution at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (Chapter 1) and also describes a cavity camera system to measure woodpecker nest success (Chapter 2). Using data collected at 102 nest sites and 104 random, non-used sites, logistic regression models showed that woodpeckers preferred low densities of small snags and high densities of trees with dead limbs < 10 m above ground level. Models also showed a preference for large dead nest trees. These results are consistent with other studies and are likely a function of this species’ diverse foraging ecology. Examination of the distribution of nests revealed that the highest density occurred in areas burned between 20 - 25 times since 1964. Implementation of a high-frequency burn regime may be effective at creating red-headed woodpecker habitat. The cavity camera system utilized in 2011 was cheaper and easier to assemble than published designs (Chapter 2). One season of use revealed an average of 3 nestlings and two instances of nest depredation.

University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. May 2012. Major: Natural resources science & Management. Advisor: Dr. Todd W. Arnold. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 43 pages, appendix 1.

Suggested Citation
Waldstein, Ariane Lentz. (2012). Nest-site selection and nesting ecology of red-headed woodpeckers.. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,

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