Habitat relationships and nest site characteristics of cavity-nesting birds in cottonwood floodplains

Journal of Wildlife Management
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Abstract

We examined habitat relationships and nest site characteristics for 6 species of cavity-nesting birds--American kestrel (Falco sparverius), northern flicker (Colaptes auratus), red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), black-capped chickadee (Parus atricapillus), house wren (Troglodytes aedon), and European starling (Sturnus vulgaris)--in a mature plains cottonwood (Populus sargentii) bottomland along the South Platte River in northeastern Colorado in 1985 and 1986. We examined characteristics of cavities, nest trees, and the habitat surrounding nest trees. Density of large trees (>69 cm dbh), total length of dead limbs ≥10 cm diameter (TDLL), and cavity density were the most important habitat variables; dead limb length (DLL), dbh, and species were the most important tree variables; and cavity height, cavity entrance diameter, and substrate condition at the cavity (live vs. dead) were the most important cavity variables in segregating cavity nesters along habitat, tree, and cavity dimensions, respectively. Random sites differed most from cavity-nesting bird sites on the basis of dbh, DLL, limb tree density (trees with ≥1 m dead limbs ≥10 cm diameter), and cavity density. Habitats of red-headed woodpeckers and American kestrels were the most unique, differing most from random sites. Based on current trends in cottonwood demography, densities of cavity-nesting birds will probably decline gradually along the South Platte River, paralleling a decline in DLL, limb tree density, snag density, and the concurrent lack of cottonwood regeneration.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Habitat relationships and nest site characteristics of cavity-nesting birds in cottonwood floodplains
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.2307/3808910
Volume 54
Issue 1
Year Published 1990
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Society
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Description 13 p.
First page 112
Last page 124