Red-cockaded Woodpecker

During my first birding life, I made a trip to Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge to get a glimpse of this perhaps most threatened bird in Arkansas.  Back in those days that was the only place in Arkansas or much of anywhere else they could be found due to their requirements. Perhaps the main reason for their decline was that they preferred to drill cavities in living pine trees that were old enough to get a certain disease that softened the wood, typically about 80+ years. Since the timber and paper industries cut  trees more on the order of 30 years the number of habitats were devastated in the 20th century.  That day I got a single glimpse of one bird.  Now, at least 25 years later, things have improved for the RCW.  Since that time, RCWs have been actively managed so that their numbers have increased and they can now be found in a number of locations such as Warren Prairie Natural Area, Pine City, somewhere in the Ouachitas, and other places.   On June 2, ASCA went to Warren Prairie and saw three individuals including this one at an artificial nest.  Since it takes 80 years to get an 80 year old tree, conservationists have started creating these artificial nests, literally bird houses inserted into the living pine tree, so that the RCW doesn’t require the years it would normally take them to excavate the dwelling.  Click images for larger views.

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