Artificial cavities and nest site selection by Puerto Rican Parrots: A multiscale assessment
We examined nest site selection by Puerto Rican Parrots, a secondary cavity nester, at several spatial scales using the nest entrance as the central focal point relative to 20 habitat and spatial variables. The Puerto Rican Parrot is unique in that, since 2001, all known nesting in the wild has occurred in artificial cavities, which also provided us with an opportunity to evaluate nest site selection without confounding effects of the actual nest cavity characteristics. Because of the data limitations imposed by the small population size of this critically endangered endemic species, we employed a distribution-free statistical simulation approach to assess site selection relative to characteristics of used and unused nesting sites. Nest sites selected by Puerto Rican Parrots were characterized by greater horizontal and vertical visibility from the nest entrance, greater density of mature sierra palms, and a more westerly and leeward orientation of nest entrances than unused sites. Our results suggest that nest site selection in this species is an adaptive response to predation pressure, to which the parrots respond by selecting nest sites offering advantages in predator detection and avoidance at all stages of the nesting cycle. We conclude that identifying and replicating the “nest gestalt” of successful nesting sites may facilitate conservation efforts for this and other endangered avian species.