Downy woodpeckers Picoides pubescens excavate roosting and nesting cavities from polystyrene cylinders in deciduous forests in Ohio, USA

  • Published source details Peterson A.W. & Grubb T.C. (1983) Artificial trees as a cavity substrate for woodpeckers. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 47, 790-798


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Provide artificial nesting sites for woodpeckers

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Provide artificial nesting sites for songbirds

Action Link
Bird Conservation
  1. Provide artificial nesting sites for woodpeckers

    A replicated trial in 1979-80 in a deciduous forest in Ohio, USA (Peterson & Grubb 1983), found that downy woodpeckers Picoides pubescens excavated 51 roosting cavities in 42 artificial snags. Raccoons Procyon lotor destroyed 18 cavities, with woodpeckers excavating new holes near nine of these. Two species of songbird used cavities excavated by woodpeckers (see ‘Provide artificial nesting sites for songbirds’ for details). Snags were polystyrene cylinders 242 cm high, 22 cm diameter and were erected 10 cm above ground on metal poles. A total of 50 cylinders were erected. Laboratory tests showed that polystyrene did not have a negative impact on woodpecker health.


  2. Provide artificial nesting sites for songbirds

    A replicated trial in 1979-80 in a deciduous forest in Ohio, USA (Peterson & Grubb 1983), found that two pairs of Carolina chickadees Parus carolinensis and 28 pairs of house wrens Troglodytes aedon nested in cavities excavated from polystyrene cylinders by downy woodpeckers Picoides pubsecens. This study is discussed in more detail in ‘Provide artificial nesting sites for woodpeckers’.


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