Nest predation and nest defence in European and North American woodpeckers: a review
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): M. Paclik; J. Misik; K. Weidinger
Publication Year: 2009

Cataloging Information

  • cavity nesting birds
  • Europe
  • fire dependent species
  • forest management
  • habits and behavior
  • nesting
  • Picidae
  • Picoides borealis
  • predation
  • red-cockaded woodpecker
  • wildlife habitat management
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 50727
Tall Timbers Record Number: 27399
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Birds that excavate their own cavities for breeding are traditionally considered to suffer little from nest predation. We reviewed the literature for nest predation rates, nest success, nest predator species and nest defence in European and North American woodpeckers. Predation rate varied from zero to 0.35 (median 0.13, n = 33 populations), while nest success varied from 0.42 to 1.00 (median 0.80, n = 84). Daily nest predation rate increased, while daily nest survival rate did not change with species body weight. This suggests a role of cavity entrance size in passive nest defence and differential causes of nest failure between small and large species. Twenty three predator species preyed upon woodpecker nests. Woodpeckers defended their nests by attacking the predators, blocking the cavity entrance, and by the selection of safe habitat/cavity and timing of breeding. We conclude by discussing gaps in the literature regarding woodpecker nest predation. © Finnish Zoological and Botanical Publishing Board 2009.

Paclik, M., J. Misik, and K. Weidinger. 2009. Nest predation and nest defence in European and North American woodpeckers: a review. Annales Zoologici Fennici, v. 46, no. 5, p. 361-379.