Many human activities disturb the natural habitats of various species. This is why it is very important for wildlife managers to determine and protect high-quality habitats, which are habitats the most reproductively successful individuals choose. When it comes to breeding birds, researchers usually identify habitat by comparing the characteristics of the vegetation where pairs choose to nest to the characteristics of the other available but neglected vegetation. We suspected that this method was not reliable for identifying high-quality habitat, because it doesn’t account for the preferences of early breeders, who are usually a lot more experienced and reproductively successful birds. This is why we contrasted the choices of earlier breeding yellow-bellied sapsucker pairs to those of the later ones. We then compared this method to the one usually used. We found that measuring the preferences of early breeders led to a better ability to measure the quality of the habitat.