Red-cockaded Woodpecker Microhabitat Characteristics and Reproductive Success in a Loblolly-Shortleaf Pine Forest

Douglas R. Wood1, *, L. Wesley Burger, Jr.1, Francisco J. Vilella2
1 Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762, USA
2 Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Mississippi State, Mississippi, 39762, USA

© 2014 Wood et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Biological Sciences, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, PMB 4068, 1405 N. 4th Ave, Durant, OK 74701-0609, USA; Tel: 580-745-2272; Fax: 580-745-7459; E-mail:


We investigated the relationship between red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) reproductive success and microhabitat characteristics in a southeastern loblolly (Pinus taeda) and shortleaf (P. echinata) pine forest. From 1997 to 1999, we recorded reproductive success parameters of 41 red-cockaded woodpecker groups at the Bienville National Forest, Mississippi. Microhabitat characteristics were measured for each group during the nesting season. Logistic regression identified understory vegetation height and small nesting season home range size as predictors of red-cockaded woodpecker nest attempts. Linear regression models identified several variables as predictors of red-cockaded woodpecker reproductive success including group density, reduced hardwood component, small nesting season home range size, and shorter foraging distances. Red-cockaded woodpecker reproductive success was correlated with habitat and behavioral characteristics that emphasize high quality habitat. By providing high quality foraging habitat during the nesting season, red-cockaded woodpeckers can successfully reproduce within small home ranges.

Keywords: Loblolly pine, microhabitat, Picoides borealis, red-cockaded woodpecker, reproduction, shortleaf pine.