Assessing Annual Survival of White-headed Woodpeckers in Managed Ponderosa Pine Stands

Project abstract: 

In Washington, the White-headed Woodpecker (Dryobates albolarvatus) is listed as a species of concern because of its association with old-growth ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests. In 2011, we began a color-marking study of White-headed Woodpeckers in managed stands dominated by ponderosa pine. We captured adult birds with mist nets, hoop nets, and noose traps at nest cavities and water features. We did this by using call playbacks in conjunction with a taxidermy mounted female White-headed Woodpecker. Each adult and juvenile White-headed Woodpecker we captured was banded with a unique combination of three colored leg bands and a numbered aluminum band. Nestlings were banded by cutting a hole in the cavity, removing the nestlings for banding, then placing the nestlings back in the cavity and sealing the cavity with the removed wooden plug. The study is currently ongoing. We are performing this study in conjunction with a radio telemetry study of adult White-headed Woodpeckers to estimate home range size and space using during the breeding season. 

Project goals: 

Our previous research determined that the White-headed Woodpecker reproduces well in managed ponderosa pine stands with an overall nest survival of 0.70. However, there is currently no information regarding either adult or juvenile White-headed Woodpecker annual survival in managed forests containing little to no old-growth component. The goal of this project is to estimate annual survival of adult and juvenile White-headed Woodpeckers within ponderosa pine stands with a history of timber management along the eastern Cascade Range of Washington.

Project plan: 

Color mark as many adult and juvenile White-headed Woodpeckers as possible during a breeding season and try to relocate as many color marked birds as possible in subsequent years to estimate yearly adult and juvenile survival as well as better understand juvenile dispersal from natal territories. 

Project progress: 

This project is currently ongoing.  Click below for links to our 2011 and 2012 annual reports.  These are a yearly summary of the telemetry and color-marking projects.  We just published findings from the first 10 years of this project in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology.  We have added that manuscript below.  

Project Photos:

  • color-banded female White-headed Woodpecker
  • color-banded male White-headed Woodpecker
  • removing White-headed Woodpecker from mist net
  • Using hoop net at nest cavity to trap White-headed Woodpecker
  • Shallow hole cut in snag to access nestlings in cavity
  • Male White-headed Woodpecker nestling with color bands
  • White-headed Woodpecker nest cavity with wooden plug reinserted after banding nestlings
  • color-banded female White-headed Woodpecker

Status: Active

04/01/2011 - Present
Targeted Populations: 

Project Manager