eWestern BirdsThe Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists
Vol. 45, No. 4
Western Field Ornithologists
Roost Sites of the Black-backed Woodpecker in Burned Forest
Rodney B. Siegel, Robert L. Wilkerson, Morgan W. Tingley, and Christine A. Howell
ABSTRACT: The Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) is strongly associated with recently burned forest, which makes it vulnerable to salvage logging or other post-fire forest management that removes snags. As part of a larger radio-telemetry study of the species’ resource use and habitat selection in a burned forest in California, we located radio-tagged Black-backed Woodpeckers at night to find and describe their roost sites. We found 14 unique roost locations during night-time searches for five individual birds. Description of the micro-site on the tree that the bird used was impossible at five roosts where we could not visually locate the bird in the dark. At the nine roosts confirmed visually, none of the birds roosted in excavated cavities. Rather, they roosted in sheltered spaces within burned-out hollows of trunks (5 instances), in the crook of a forked trunk (1 instance), wedged between adjacent trunks of two closely spaced trees (1 instance), in a deep, natural bark furrow (1 instance), and clinging to a trunk directly above a horizontal branch (1 instance). Eleven of the 14 roosts (79%) were in dead trees. Our results suggest that in burned forests the Black-backed Woodpecker may benefit if, during salvage logging, emphasis is placed on retaining snags with burned-out hollows, forked trunks, or other relatively unusual structures that may create crevices or other opportunities for shelter.