eWestern BirdsThe Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists
Vol. 34, No. 4
Western Field Ornithologists
Characteristics of Trees Used by Nesting and Roosting Vaux’s Swifts in Northwestern California
John E. Hunter and M. J. Mazurek
ABSTRACT: Given the limited information available on trees used by Vaux’s Swifts (Chaetura vauxi) in the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) zone of California, we gathered information regarding site, tree, and nest characteristics at nest and roost trees that were found opportunistically by various observers. All 14 nest trees and four roost trees were redwoods. Twelve of the nests were found in basal hollows in large live trees [mean diameter at breast height (dbh) 306 cm], one was in a cavity formed at the base of two small live trees (dbh about 50 cm) that had grown together, and one was in a stump (height 1.3 m, dbh 128 cm). Three of the four roost trees were dead with broken tops; their mean height and dbh were 20.0 m and 229 cm, respectively. The fourth was a live tree 33.9 m in height and 297 cm in dbh. These trees were in areas experiencing varying levels of human activity. All nests were located well away from cavity entrances. Our findings suggest that fire plays an important role in the creation of suitable nest and roost trees and that the swifts’ tradition of using specific suitable trees lasts for many years.