Nest-site characteristics of Levaillant’s Woodpecker Picus vaillantii endemic to North Africa

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NISC (Pty) Ltd and Informa UK Limited (trading as Taylor & Francis Group)
Levaillant’s Woodpecker is an endemic species of the forests of north-western Africa. Through the cavities it digs, its presence is essential for the existence of other cavity nesters. However, despite its importance to its ecosystems, there are not much data dealing with its ecology and especially its habitats. To describe these habitats, we investigated nest-sites characteristics of Levaillant’s Woodpecker Picus vaillantii in the Aures forest massifs of north-eastern Algeria, during two breeding seasons 2018 and 2019. Using the point count method, we detected 45 occupied nesting cavities, unevenly distributed over the formations, dominated by Atlas cedar (73.3%), Holm oak (13.3%), and Aleppo pine (4.4%). Results showed high utilisation of live trees (71.1%) with healthy crowns (75.5%). Findings also revealed that the species favoured tree trunks (77.7%) as nesting support and that the determination of the nest height was strongly dependent on the height of the nesting tree. Nest height and tree diameter at this height varied significantly among tree species. Nests were higher in Aleppo pine, however, tree diameters at nest positions were lower in this species, compared with other tree species. These results on the ecology of Levaillant’s Woodpecker can serve to fill the information gap in the ornithological knowledge of the Aures forests areas and provide important information for the conservation of the species in the context of forest management