Several bird species appear to be closely associated with walnut-fruit forests of Kyrgyzstan, but their habitat needs are poorly understood. One of those species is the White-winged Woodpecker, endemic to Central Asia and considered one of the least-studied woodpecker species worldwide. We investigated habitat selection and cavity tree selection of this species in South Kyrgyzstan. Between March and mid-May 2009, we systematically searched for woodpeckers with playbacks on circular plots (n = 63) and subsequently used occupancy models, which account for imperfect detection, to examine relations between woodpecker occurrence and habitat factors. Occupancy rate of the White-winged Woodpecker was 0.50 (95% CI 0.36–0.64) as opposed to the naïve estimate of 0.44 (calculated as occupied plots divided by total plots); detection probability was 0.85 (0.68–0.93). Model selection revealed a preference of the White-winged Woodpecker for walnut forests, with occupancy rate declining with altitude. Cavity trees were positively associated to walnut forests and to the occurrence of damaged trees (living trees with broken and/or dead limbs), had larger diameters at breast height and were more likely damaged than available trees. Future management plans for walnut forests should consider habitat requirements of the White-winged Woodpecker, which may also benefit other species.
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Vol. 46 • No. 1