Ornis Hungarica. vol.24(1). (2016) p.69-80.
Parental care by Black-backed Woodpeckers in burned and unburned habitats of eastern Canada
Nest care is an important parental contribution to offspring. In woodpeckers, males often have an equal or greater contribution to parental care, including nest sanitation. The Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) is a North American boreal woodpecker for which both parents are highly involved in parental care. By modifying their territory size in optimal and suboptimal habitat (e.g. burned vs unburned habitats), this species seems to have a large tolerance to variation in prey abundance at a landscape scale, and could provide a useful biological model to investigate the adaptability of parent care, particularly to relative contribution of each sex. We investigated sex- and habitat-specific parental care behaviour of Black-backed Woodpeckers at 9 nests by daily monitoring during the nestling period. Specifically, we examined two different aspects of parental care: 1) time spent at the nest, and 2) food delivery. We also compared relative contribution between sexes to nest sanitation. Despite our small sample sizes, our results show that males are more involved in nest sanitation and spend longer at the nest, and both sexes exhibit higher food delivery rates and spend less time at the nest in burned habitat. This latter result may suggest that greater effort is needed to provision Black-backed Woodpecker nestlings in unburned habitat compared to burned habitat.