The Red-cockaded Woodpecker Is Classified As an Endangered Species.
This swamp buggy tour started out normal and just kept getting better! We had beautiful weather and a lovely family, a woman with her husband, their son and his friend. Turns out, that both young men are both in college to become biologists.
The magic begins as this swamp buggy tour turned into quite an experience for them as we ran into the *FWC biologist. He was out collecting data in the field about the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker colonies here. (*FWC — Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation)
The Only Woodpeckers To Nest In Live Trees
The biologist spent over an hour with us answering questions and discussing the birds and their nesting habits. It was particularly intriguing and educational. Where else can you appreciate things like this?
In the world of North American woodpeckers, the red-cockaded woodpecker stands out as an exception to the usual rules.
Red-cockaded woodpeckers are the only woodpeckers to excavate the nest and roost sites in living trees. Living in small family groups, red-cockaded woodpeckers are a social species, unlike other woodpecker species.
These groups chatter and call throughout the day, using a wide variety of vocalizations. The red-cockaded woodpecker is one of only two woodpecker species protected by the Endangered Species Act.
The other protected woodpecker species, the ivory-billed woodpecker, had been assumed extinct for decades until sightings on a national wildlife refuge in the Southeast. This too is up for debate.
Red-cockaded Woodpeckers Live In Mature Pine Forest
Red-cockaded woodpeckers live in mature pine forests—specifically those with longleaf pines averaging 80 to 120 years old and loblolly pines averaging 70 to 100 years old. From the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, red-cockaded woodpeckers declined rapidly as their mature pine forest habitat was altered for a variety of uses, primarily timber harvest and agriculture. Pine savannahs and open woodlands once dominated the southeastern United States and may have totaled more than 200 million acres at the time of European colonization. Longleaf pine communities may have covered 60 to 92 million of those acres. Today, fewer than 3 million acres remain.
Listed in 1970 as endangered, red-cockaded woodpeckers once ranged from Florida to Maryland and New Jersey, as far west as Texas and Oklahoma, and inland to Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Home is where the pine trees are…The red-cockaded woodpeckers are about the size of cardinals, these woodpeckers excavate cavities exclusively in living pine trees, preferring older pines infected with the fungal red heart disease that softens heartwood.
Cavity Trees Occupied By These Woodpeckers Are Called A Cluster
Red-cockaded woodpeckers need up to three years to excavate the cavities they use for nesting and roosting. The woodpeckers are faithful to their cavity trees, and each member of the group has its roost cavity. Cavity trees occupied by a group of Red-cockaded Woodpecker are called a cluster and may include 1 to 20 or more trees on 3 to 60 acres. Red-cockaded woodpeckers peck holes around actively used cavities. These small wells exude resin that coats much of the tree. The birds keep the resin flowing as a defense against rat snakes and other predators.
The Red-cockaded woodpecker plays a vital role in the intricate web of life of southern pine forests. Several birds and mammals use the nest cavities that the Red-cockaded Woodpecker excavates – such as chickadees, bluebirds, titmice, and species including the downy, hairy, and red-bellied woodpeckers.
Larger woodpeckers may take over a red-cockaded woodpecker cavity, sometimes enlarging the hole enough to allow screech owls, wood ducks, and even raccoons to move in. Several species of reptiles and amphibians, and insects, primarily bees and wasps, also use red-cockaded cavities.
Everyone had a fabulous time and then after the swamp buggy tour, it was “supper” at Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe´. I had the hamburger with bacon, and they had blue crabs, and not able to choose, finally decided on eating both the soft shell and hard blue crabs. We wrapped up the day with Joanie’s famous guava cheese cake, (once tasted you will kill to have it again.) All in all, it was a rare day on the swamp buggy tour, (with the chance to meet the FWC biologist), but it does happen! Call right now and make reservations, and perhaps it will happen for you. If This Interest You Book Online Below