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Characteristics of feeding-site selection by breeding Green Woodpeckers Picus viridis in a UK agricultural landscape

Alder, Danny and Marsden, Stuart (2010) Characteristics of feeding-site selection by breeding Green Woodpeckers Picus viridis in a UK agricultural landscape. Bird study, 57 (1). pp. 100-107. ISSN 0006-3657

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Abstract

Capsule Green Woodpeckers exhibited strong feeding-site preference, choosing areas based on abundance of ants with additional micro-habitat effects. Aims To identify the habitat characteristics influencing feeding-site selection across farmland. Methods A pair of Green Woodpeckers was radiotracked during a breeding season. Habitat and prey abundance variables were compared within the birds' combined home-ranges. canoco was used to identify ecological gradients, and logistic regression used to predict feeding-site use based on ant abundance with resultant residuals correlated to identify habitat features that further influenced site selection. Results Most feeding was done in sheep-grazed pastures and garden lawns with arable and cattle-grazed land avoided. Green Woodpecker feeding sites were associated with areas of short grassland with high plant richness and high densities of ants, especially Lasius flavus. Logistic regression correctly classified 98% of cases from ant abundance. The woodpecker pair had a greater probability of feeding in areas with deep leaf litter, high plant species richness, and lower probability if the site had tall or dense vegetation, or heavily compacted soils. Conclusions Structural habitat characteristics were important, with this woodpecker pair foraging in short grazed and mown grasslands. If these results are replicated elsewhere then appropriate farm management may benefit Green Woodpeckers significantly.

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