STATUS:Endangered, Federal Register, October 13, 197O
DESCRIPTION:The red-cockaded woodpecker is 18 to 2O centimeters long with a wing span of 35 to 38 centimeters. There are black and white horizontal stripes on its back, and its cheeks and underparts are white. Its flanks are black streaked. The cap and stripe on the side of the neck and the throat are black. The male has a small red spot on each side of the black cap. After the first post fledgling molt, fledgling males have a red crown patch. This woodpecker's diet is composed mainly of insects which include ants, beetles, wood-boring insects, caterpillars, and corn ear worms if available. About 16 to 18 percent of the diet includes seasonal wild fruit.
REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT:Egg laying occurs during April, May, and June with the female utilizing her mate's roosting cavity for a nest. Maximum clutch size is seven eggs with the average being three to five eggs. From egg laying to fledging requires about 38 days, and then another several weeks are needed before the young become completely independent. Most often, the parent birds and some of their male offspring from previous years form a family unit called a group. A group may include one breeding pair and as many as seven other birds. Commonly, these groups are comprised of three to five birds. Rearing the young birds becomes a shared responsibility of the group. However, a single pair can breed successfully without the benefit of the helpers.
RANGE AND POPULATION LEVEL:This bird's range is closely tied to the distribution of southern pines. Historically, the red-cockaded woodpecker was found from East Texas and Oklahoma, to Florida, and North to New Jersey. The present distribution is similar, except the species has been extirpated from Missouri, Maryland, and New Jersey. The remaining populations are fragmented into isolated, island populations. Current population level is estimated at 4,5OO groups or 1O,OOO to 12,OOO birds.
HABITAT:Open stands of pines with a minimum age of 8O to 12O years, depending on the site, provide suitable nesting habitat. Longleaf pines (Pinus palustris) are most commonly used, but other species of southern pine are also acceptable. Dense stands (stands that are primarily hardwoods, or that have a dense hardwood understory) are avoided. Foraging habitat is provided in pine and pine hardwood stands 3O years old or older with foraging preference for pine trees 1O inches or larger in diameter. In good, well-stocked, pine habitat, sufficient foraging substrate can be provided on 8O to 125 acres.
Roosting cavities are excavated in living pines, and usually in those which are infected with a fungus producing what is known as disease. The expanse of territories is related to both habitat suitability and population density.
REASONS FOR CURRENT STATUS: MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION:
REASONS FOR CURRENT STATUS:The red-cockaded woodpecker was described by Audubon as being abundant in 1839, but it received little study until around 197O, when investigations began to indicate that the species could be headed for extinction. The decline is attributed primarily to the reduction of pine forest with trees 8O years old and older and to the encroachment of hardwood midstory due to fire supression in clusters. Living pines in this age group, infected with red-heart disease, generally provide the specialized nesting sites which these woodpeckers require.
MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION:Some of the recommendations included in the species' recovery plan are: (1) Survey, monitor, and assess the status of individual populations and the species; (2) Implement protection and management of nesting and foraging habitat on Federal lands; (3) Encourage protection and management on private lands; (4) Conduct research on habitat needs and management, population dynamics, and genetic variation, and(5) Inform and involve the public.