Monica is spending the spring and summer studying black-backed woodpeckers in the Lassen National Forest in California for the Institute for Bird Populations. The project's goal is to estimate space use and foraging habitat selection using radio telemetry. Black-backed woodpeckers are strongly associated with burned forests because these forests have large numbers of freshly killed trees (snags) where their wood-boring beetle larvae prey are numerous. The woodpeckers excavate nest cavities in dead trees. Once they are finished using these cavities, other birds such as western and mountain bluebirds, house wrens, and white-breasted nuthatches will use them for nesting as well.
Black-backed woodpeckers are just one of the many species that thrive in heavily burned forests.