A JFSP Fire Science Exchange Network
Bringing People Together & Sharing Knowledge in the Northern Rockies

Listening to the message of the Black-backed Woodpecker, a hot fire specialist

Author(s): Elise LeQuire
Year Published: 2009

The Black-backed Woodpecker is an uncommon bird of the northern coniferous forests of North America. It is one of several species of fauna that are considered fire specialists. This woodpecker nests in cavities it creates in dead standing trees and feeds on wood-boring beetles and their larvae, which are also attracted to stressed or burned trees. Because the bird can be seen and heard from a distance, its population dynamics can be used to estimate the suitability of habitat to support both flora and fauna that have evolved in a natural regime of severe fire. In the effort to return the forests to a condition more in tune with historical norms, resource managers will need to embrace the concept that severe, stand-replacing fires that do not threaten life or property are not all bad. They are, in fact, essential for the survival of a variety of fire-dependent species.

Citation: LeQuire, Elise. 2009. Listening to the message of the Black-backed Woodpecker, a hot fire specialist. Joint Fire Science Program Fire Science Brief. February 2009(39): 1-12.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - First Order, Fire Intensity / Burn Severity, Ecological - Second Order, Wildlife, Fire & Wildlife, Birds, Black-backed woodpecker, Fire Regime
Ecosystem(s): Montane wet mixed-conifer forest, Montane dry mixed-conifer forest
Document Type: Research Brief or Fact Sheet
NRFSN number: 11083
FRAMES RCS number: 7950
Record updated: May 10, 2018