Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker Habitat - Artificial Nest Box Cavities

I noticed several of these clever artificial nest cavities on a recent trip to a Florida Wildlife Management area. Sometimes Downy Woodpeckers are mistaken for the extremely rare and critically endangered Red Cockaded Woodpeckers at a distance. The male RCW has just the tiniest spot of red on its head with big white cheeks and a black cap compared to the Downy. In theory, the RCW could live in the conservation area behind my backyard with its old growth Long Leaf Pines, but I have never seen one. The RCW has very narrow habitat requirements. It requires pines at least 60-years old (preferring 80-100-year old trees which are infected with red heart fungus). RCWs cannot persist in the long term without suitable cavity trees and adequate foraging habitat.  They also do not except typical nest boxes. If you are interested in how these artificial nesting cavities are installed, the Louisiana DWF has produced an excellent video showing an installation:

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