Canadian Forest Service Publications

Woodpecker abundance and habitat use in mature balsam fir forests in Newfoundland. 2000. Setterington, M.A.; Thompson, I.D.; Montevecchi, W.A. Journal of Wildlife Management 64: 335-345.

Year: 2000

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 18693

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Availability of the oldest age-class of balsam fir (Abies balsamea) forest, the major forest type of western Newfoundland, is declining through logging, insect effects, and management for a 60-year harvest rotation. Loss of old-growth balsam fir forests may limit the availability of woodpecker habitat if nesting trees and feeding substrates are most abundant in these later successional stages. We assessed abundance of black-backed woodpeckers (Picoides arcticus), downy woodpeckers (P. pubescens), and hairy woodpeckers (P. villosus) in 10 stands in each of 3 forest age classes (40-59, 60-79, and >80 yr) of balsam fir in western Newfoundland. For each stand, we quantified 10 habitat variables that may have influenced habitat use by woodpeckers. Black-backed woodpeckers were almost exclusively found in >80-year-old forests. Density of black-backed woodpeckers was significantly related to number of large snags, but negatively to the total number of dead stems. Downy woodpeckers were common and similarly distributed among the 3 forest age classes, and hairy woodpeckers were uncommon and only observed in the 40- and 60-year age classes. Downy and hairy woodpeckers were significantly associated with the number of white birch snags in the stands, a resource that declined with forest age. A reduction in the amount of forest in the oldest age class is probably reducing the population of black-backed woodpeckers in western Newfoundland. We recommend a series of fixed-width transects, coupled with point counts using call broadcasts, as an effective means of surveying woodpeckers. Forest managers must maintain large areas of old forests, temporally and spatially, to maintain black-backed woodpeckers in Newfoundland.