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Journal Article

Competition between European Starlings and Native Woodpeckers for Nest Cavities in Saguaros

Theodore A. Kerpez and Norman S. Smith
The Auk
Vol. 107, No. 2 (Apr., 1990), pp. 367-375
DOI: 10.2307/4087621
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4087621
Page Count: 9
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Competition between European Starlings and Native Woodpeckers for Nest Cavities in Saguaros
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Abstract

European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) have recently invaded Arizona and breed in some areas but not in similar areas nearby. In Arizona, European Starlings commonly nest in cavities in saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea) but do not excavate these cavities. To examine whether European Starlings compete with native woodpeckers for nest cavities in saguaros, we studied Gila Woodpeckers (Melanerpes uropygialis) and Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) in areas with European Starlings and in similar, nearby areas with no European Starlings. We determined which factors explained the variation in the number of nests of each species present on fifteen 10-ha plots. We also compared the location and dimensions of nest cavities used by each species to determine whether European Starlings use Gila Woodpecker nest cavities, Northern Flicker nest cavities, or both. We found that European Starlings compete with Gila Woodpeckers but not with Northern Flickers. This competition decreases the number of Gila Woodpeckers that nest in areas where European Starlings nest. European Starlings used Gila Woodpecker nest cavities, and there was a negative relationship between the number of European Starling nests and the number of Gila woodpecker nests that explained 46.7% of the variation in the number of Gila Woodpecker nests on the plots. European Starlings did not use Northern Flicker nest cavities, and we found no relationship between the number of European Starling nests and the number of Northern Flicker nests. In addition, the number of Gila Woodpecker nests was positively related to the number of large saguaros and negatively related to the slope of the plot. The number of Northern Flicker nests was positively related to the volume of ironwood (Olneya tesota). The number of European Starling nests was negatively related to the distance to agriculture and large lawns.

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