The fourth Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Symposium held last week in Savannah, GA, brought together most of the individuals, organizations and agencies involved in the conservation, recovery, and management of the red-cockaded woodpecker. Over 77 presentations covered a wide range of topics. Presentations by USDA Forest Service researchers with the Southern Research Station (SRS) are highlighted.
*Woodpeckers usually excavate their nesting and roosting cavities out of the soft, rotten wood of dead trees. The red-cockaded woodpecker is the only member of the family that excavates its nesting cavities in living pines, usually older trees infected with red heart fungus, which attacks and softens the heartwood. Even with this advantage, digging out a cavity can take from one to six years. Richard Conner, research wildlife biologist at the SRS Wildlife Habitat and Silviculture unit located in Nacogdoches, TX, presented research confirming RCW preference for older pine trees, especially for older longleaf pines. SRS research had previously shown that the dominant male of a RCW group seeks out the newest cavity in the pines being used by the woodpecker group when establishing his nesting cavity. While excavating, the bird pecks away the bark of the tree to form resin wells above and below the nesting cavity: leaking resin, sticky and clear, deters the snakes that prey on woodpecker eggs and young. Conner's recent research suggest
Contact: Zoe Hoyle
Southern Research Station - USDA Forest Service