We examined effects of prescribed fire on 3 wintering, bark-foraging birds, hairy woodpeckers (Picoides villosus), pygmy nuthatches (Sitta pygmaea), and white-breasted nuthatches (S. carolinensis), in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests of northern Arizona, USA. During winters of 2004–2006, we compared bird density, foraging behavior, and bark beetle activity among burned treatment and unburned control units. Hairy woodpecker density was 5 times greater in burn units, whereas white-breasted nuthatches and pygmy nuthatches had similar densities between treatments. Compared to available trees, trees used by foraging hairy woodpeckers had 9 times greater odds of having bark beetles in control units and 12 times greater odds in burn units. Tree diameter appeared to be the main factor bark-foraging birds used in selecting winter foraging trees. Our results suggest that forest managers can use prescribed fire treatments without detrimental effects to wintering nuthatches, while providing additional food to hairy woodpeckers.
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Vol. 73 • No. 5