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1 December 2015 Low Fecundity of Red-Headed Woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) at the Northern Edge of the Range
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Abstract

The Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) is a threatened bird species undergoing continued population declines across most of its range. Despite the conservation concern, there are few published studies on the species’ fecundity. We examined the nesting phenology, clutch size, and fledging success of Red-headed Woodpecker nests in southern Ontario and northern New York, where population declines are especially pronounced. We calculated the fecundity of the Red-headed Woodpecker populations from fledgling numbers and nest survival estimates. We found that nest phenology and clutch sizes were similar to those reported in other studies for the species. Red-headed Woodpecker nests monitored using video inspection had an unusually low fledging success (39%), and an average fecundity of 0.43 female fledglings per female per year. The fledgling success and fecundity for the monitored Red-headed Woodpecker population was lower than that reported by other published studies on Melanerpes spp., as well as for other genera of woodpeckers. The fecundity was also below the minimum threshold needed to offset mortality for the species, when compared to a majority of minimum fecundity values estimated from the literature. We suggest low fecundity for Red-headed Woodpeckers at the northern edge of their range may be the chronic condition of sink populations, or a more recent phenomenon for small populations approaching local extinction.

© 2015 The Wilson Ornithological Society
Barbara Frei, James W. Fyles, Jacob L. Berl, John W. Edwards, and Joseph J. Nocera "Low Fecundity of Red-Headed Woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) at the Northern Edge of the Range," The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 127(4), 639-645, (1 December 2015). https://doi.org/10.1676/14-167.1
Received: 21 November 2014; Accepted: 1 April 2015; Published: 1 December 2015
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