Land Bird Conservation Plan Colorado  

Executive Summary
Overview of Colorado
Physiographic Region 36
Physiographic Region 62

  • Alpine Tundra
  • Aspen
  • Cliff/Rock
  • High Elevation Riparian
  • Lowland Riparian
  • Mixed Conifer
  • Mountain Shrubland
  • Ponderosa Pine
  • Sagebrush Shrubland
  • Spruce Fir
  • Wetlands

  • Physiographic Region 87
    Implementation Strategies
    Literature Cited

    Physiographic Region 62: Southern Rocky Mountains

    Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis)

    Associated Species: Other species that may use habitat in a similar way and/or respond similarly to threats, management, and conservation activities include Violet-green Swallow, Purple Martin, and Mountain Bluebird. Other species associated with mature aspen stands include Cooper's Hawk, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Western Wood-Pewee, Warbling Vireo, and House Wren.

    Distribution: Red-naped Sapsuckers breed from southern British Columbia and Alberta south in the Rocky Mountains to central Arizona and New Mexico, and from eastern Washington, Oregon and California east to the Rocky Mountain front. In Colorado, they are fairly common breeders in the foothills and lower mountains, especially aspen forests. They are rare spring and fall migrants and very rare winters resident in the Four Corners area.

    Habitat Requirements: Breeding habitat for Red-naped Sapsuckers in Colorado is aspen forests or conifer forests mixed with aspen. They are most strongly associated with mature aspen woodlands. Aspen and other hardwoods may be important for successful reproduction and foraging, especially in close proximity to small openings and riparian zones with abundant willows. They will preferentially nest in aspen, even when conifer snags are available.

    Ecology: These sapsuckers arrive in breeding habitats by mid April and begin nesting in early May. They raise only one brood each season. Their nests are placed almost exclusively in aspen or other deciduous trees, and they construct new cavities each year, frequently in the same tree. Nest trees are either green with heartrot, or dead. The abandoned nest cavities are important nesting substrate for many secondary cavity nesters, and may be a critical habitat feature for some bats. Their territory size is 2 to 5 ha (5-12 ac). In Colorado, nest trees average 23.3 cm (9.2 in) dbh and 1 to 10 m (3-35 ft) in height. Orientation of nest cavities is generally southward. Their diet consists of insects, tree sap from sap wells, and some fruit; they also hawk flying insects.

    Management Issues and Conservation Recommendations: These birds respond well to partial harvesting with small to moderate sized patch clear-cuts. Maintain at least 50% of management areas in uncut patches. Retain aspen snags greater than 25.4 cm (10 in) dbh, especially near riparian zones, water sources, and habitat edges. Snag densities in mature stands should exceed 15 per 4 ha (10 ac). Maintain disturbance regimes, natural and mechanical, and the dynamic nature of aspen communities at the landscape scale. Where natural disturbance mechanisms cannot be reintroduced, mechanical disturbance events should mimic, as closely as possible, the disturbance history of the local area and surrounding habitats.

    Decay-infected green trees are preferred for cavity construction and are often reused for several consecutive seasons; individuals may show strong site fidelity. Maintain sufficient snag and live cavity-tree densities within commercial harvest areas.

    Status and Reasons for Concern: Population trends of this species are not adequately monitored by the BBS in Colorado, but populations appear to be stable or slightly increasing at the continental scale. Breeding densities of 5-10 pairs per 40 ha (100 ac), and 14 nests per 1.4 km2 have been reported. They were present on an average of 49.86% (SE = 4.44) of the BBS routes run in Physiographic Area 62 in Colorado, 1988-1998, at an average abundance of 1.11(SE = 0.17) individuals per route. The mean number of routes run each year was 21.1 (SE = 3.06). This species is monitored by MCB with point transects.

    Biological Objective: Maintain the species' distribution and abundance, based upon results of the BBS and MCB monitoring programs.

    Selected References: Andrews and Righter 1992, Baicich and Harrison 1997, Dobkin 1994, Ehrlich et al. 1988, Kalcounis and Brigham 1998, Kingery 1998, Price et al. 1995, Yanishevsky and Petring-Rupp 1998.

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