Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title



e02943 (1-8 pp.)


In many cooperatively breeding taxa, nonbreeding subordinates, or helpers, use extra-territorial forays to discover dispersal opportunities. Such forays are considered energetically costly and foraying birds face aggression from conspecific members of the territories they visit. In contrast, breeders in cooperatively breeding taxa are expected to foray seldomly. We used novel tracking technologies to follow 62 acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus), a cooperatively breeding bird, to study extra-territorial foray behavior. Both helpers and breeders engaged in extra-territorial forays routinely and often several times per day. Helpers forayed earlier in the day and invested more time when foraying to high-quality territories. Unexpectedly, breeders forayed as often and as far as helpers. Breeders from high-quality territories forayed closer to their home territories than breeders from low-quality territories, reflecting a potential trade-off between foraying and territory defense. Such a routine pattern of extra-territorial forays in both helpers and breeders suggests that the motives behind forays differ by sex and social status and involve more than simply searching for dispersal opportunities.


NOTE: This is the authors accepted online manuscript. It will be published in Ecology. Article was published online November 29, 2019. DOI:

Original Publication Citation

Barve, S., Hagemeyer, N. D. G., Winter, R. E., Chamberlain, S. D., Koenig, W. D., Winkler, D. W., & Walters, E. L. (2019). Wandering woodpeckers: Foray behavior in a social bird. Ecology, e02943. doi:10.1002/ecy.2943


0000-0001-5840-8023 (Barve), 0000-0001-5368-4598 (Hagemeyer), 0000-0002-9414-5758 (Walters)