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Birds Nesting in Saguaro Cavities

Last updated over 2 years ago

This collection provides an overview of the birds that are known to nest in cavities in the giant Saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea) of the Sonoran Desert of North America. Only two species, Gila Woodpeckers (Melanerpes uropygialis) and Gilded Flickers (Colaptes chrysoides), excavate cavities from the Saguaros. All other birds reuse the nest holes created by these woodpeckers.


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Flesch, A. D. and R. J. Steidl. 2002. Nest-site selection by cactus ferruginous pygmy-owls in northern Sonora Mexico. Report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sonoran Joint Venture, Tucson, Arizona. Cooperative Agreement No.1448-20181-01-J862.

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Hensley, M. M. 1959. Notes on the nesting of selected species of birds of the Sonoran Desert. The Wilson Bulletin 71:86-92.

Inouye, R. S., N. J. Huntly, and D. W. Inouye. 1981. Non-random orientation of Gila Woodpecker nest entrances in saguaro cacti. Condor 83:88–89.

Kerpez, T. A. and N. S. Smith. 1990a. Competition between European Starlings and native woodpeckers for nest cavities in saguaros. The Auk 107:356-375.

Kerpez, T. A. and N. S. Smith. 1990b. Nest site selection and nest-cavity characteristics of Gila Woodpeckers and Northern Flickers. The Auk 107:356-375.

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Mader, W. J. 1978. A comparative nesting study of Red-tailed Hawks and Harris' Hawks in Southern Arizona. The Auk 95:327-337.

McAuliffe, J. R. and P. Hendricks. 1988. Determinants of the vertical distributions of woodpecker nest cavities in the saguaro cactus. Condor 90:791–801.

Parker, Kathleen C. 1986. Partitioning of foraging space and nest sites in a desert shrubland bird community. American Midland Naturalist 115:255-267.

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