Road to Recovery: The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker
by John Yeingst
Truly one of the most unique species of woodpecker in the world, the red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) has a variety of specialized characteristics that make it unlike any other bird. A socially gregarious bird, the RCW uses a variety of calls to vocalize and communicate throughout the day. Its white cheeks, spotted back, and black crown make it easily distinguishable from other woodpeckers. Thought to resemble a cockade, the only real color is a small cluster of red hairs above the eyes of the male, hence the name “red-cockaded woodpecker”.
But what really make these animals so unusual are two life history traits. First, the RCW is the only woodpecker that creates hollows in living pine trees, preferably longleaf pines around a century old. Secondly, red-cockaded woodpeckers live in miniature communities, which can have up to nine members, in a very specific environment: longleaf pine forest. Unfortunately, this lifestyle, while very unique, creates many limitations for this endangered species…
(read more: Defenders of Wildlife Blog)
photos: US Fish & Wildlife Service