Most obligate cavity-nesting birds are considered to be nest-site limited, either by time or energy to excavate or to acquire suitable holes for nesting. We examined rates of nest-cavity reuse for a rich community of cavity-nesting birds in mixed forests in interior British Columbia. Using a sample of 402 cavity-reuse cases over five years, we measured cavity reuse for 20 cavity-nesting bird and mammal species (three guilds), and examined the relationship between nest-cavity reuse and features of cavities, nest trees, and forest stands. Eight percent of used cavities were destroyed between years. Reuse rates were 17% for the cavities of weak excavators such as nuthatches and chickadees, 28% for formerly active woodpecker nests, and 48% for cavities previously used by secondary cavity nesting birds, but there was considerable species variation within all guilds. Nest cavities in aspen that were deep with large entrances had the highest reuse. At the forest stand level, cavities in trees close to edges and in sites with more edge habitat had greater reuse. Reused cavities tended to be occupied in sequential years rather than being inactive for a year. With increasing amounts of managed landscapes, availability of suitable cavities for forest nesting vertebrates is decreasing. Reuse of existing cavities might help mitigate the problem of nest-site limitation.
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Vol. 119 • No. 2