Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science


Differences in nest site selection of the common flicker (Colaptes auratus), yellow-bellied sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), and red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) were studied on the Big Sioux River riparian forest of eastern South Dakota during 1980 and 1981. Nest site preferences were compared using two-group stepwise discriminant analysis. Randomly selected potential nest trees showing no previous signs of cavity excavation were included as control groups. The yellow-bellied sapsucker-red-headed woodpecker function was the most efficient in separating groups because both species had specific nest site preferences. Sapsuckers nested only in live green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), characteristically in park-like situations. Red-headed woodpeckers typically nested in American elm (Ulmus americana) snag stands with an open canopy and sparse woody understory. Functions involving common clickers or downy woodpeckers were relatively less effective at separating groups because they were more versatile in site selection. Common flickers utilized American elm in snag-dominated stands and green ash in more vigorous portions of the forest. Downy woodpeckers nested in green ash and peach-leaved willow (Salix amygdaloides) in vigorous stands and elm snags in areas with a mixture of live and dead trees, but avoided snap-dominated stands.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Birds -- Nests -- South Dakota.
Big Sioux River Valley (S.D. and Iowa)


Includes bibliographical references (pages 28-31)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Only