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Individual study: Use of artificial snags placed at different heights and breeding success of Carolina Parus carolinensis and black-capped Parus atricapillus chickadees in Ashland County, Ohio, USA

Published source details

Grubb T. & Bronson C. (1995) Artificial snags as nesting sites for chickadees. The Condor, 97, 1067-1070


In North America, attempts to establish nest box study systems for parids (chickadees) have failed, presumably because the birds' nest site preferences are better met by natural cavities. This study examined an alternative to standard nest boxes, i.e. artificial snags. The use, nesting preferences and reproductive success of Carolina chickadee Parus carolinensis and black-capped chickadeeParus atricapillus in artificial snags placed at different heights above the ground were investigated.

Study area: In 1992-1994, artificial snags were installed in woodlots within a 20 km long north-south strip-transect across the Ashland County portion of the 'Carolina/black-capped chickadee hybrid zone' in Ohio, north-central USA.

Snag placement: Within the study area during the spring of 1994, to find out preferred cavity heights for chickadees, pairs of filled snags (2 m apart each other) were mounted on trimmed saplings within known chickadee territories. In one snag of a pair, the entrance hole was located about 3 m above the ground, while in the other snag, the entrance was 1.2 m from the ground. It was assumed that both species and their hybrids responded similarly to the variation provided in snag height.

The entrances of all snags were oriented toward the northeast, away from the prevailing wind.

Monitoring: Snag uptake, nesting preferences and reproductive success were recorded.

Chickadees within the hybrid zone preferred to nest within the snags placed higher above the ground (9 pairs of birds) vs. those placed closer to the ground (2 pairs). The relatively modest number of records collected indicates that the artificial snags provided are favorable for successful reproduction. (No data on reproductive success is given in the original paper).

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