Influence of artificial cavity age on red-cockaded woodpecker translocation success
Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) translocations have been used to bolster woodpecker populations and to fill breeding vacancies. Artificial, insert cavities have been used to offset cavity shortages in woodpecker clusters and are the primary cavity type used in recruitment clusters in Texas and Arkansas, but inserts may lose their attractiveness to birds over time. Thirty-nine recruitment clusters received translocated birds on the Angelina, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston National Forests in eastern Texas and 13 clusters in the Ouachita National Forest in western Arkansas were surveyed from March through June 1998 and 1999 to determine the success rate of translocations into recruitment clusters containing new and old inserts. Clusters with inserts installed within 1 year of woodpecker translocations (n = 26) were occupied by at least 1 bird at 77% of the clusters, whereas clusters (n = 26) with older inserts had a lower success rate of 23% (x2 = 15.07, P > 0.001). If cavity inserts are the artificial cavity technique used, installation of new inserts just prior to woodpecker translocation should significantly improve the overall success rate of a red-cockaded woodpecker translocation program and facilitate the recovery effort.
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