Woodpeckers admitted when nest tree cut down

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

Three nestling red-bellied woodpeckers were among the 109 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include an evening bat, a black-necked stilt, a sandwich tern, two white-winged doves, a purple martin and a black racer.

Homeowners discovered the three nestling red-bellied woodpeckers after they cut down a dead tree in their yard. The three nestlings were brought to the hospital for medical attention. One of the nestlings was injured when the tree was felled and continues to recover at the wildlife hospital. The other two nestling woodpeckers were in good condition and cleared for renesting.

The homeowners described their property and mentioned there were several trees near where the nest tree had stood. Providing a woodpecker nest box as an alternative to the original nest cavity seemed like a good possibility. Brian Beckner, owner of Native Bird Boxes, Incorporated supplied the nest box.

Although an afternoon thunderstorm was moving through the area, Malibu West Interiors Owner and Conservancy Wildlife Hospital Volunteer, Tim Thompson, worked between bands of rain to install the nest box. The two healthy young woodpeckers were placed in the nest box with the homeowner agreeing to monitor the situation. One of the adult woodpeckers was seen on a tree near the nest box later that evening. The following day the adult woodpeckers were seen bringing food to their babies inside the box, confirming the renesting was a success.

While active nests should not be disturbed or removed until the babies are able to fend for themselves and leave the nest, accidents happen; people can unknowingly destroy active nest sites. Many species of wild animals will adapt when their nest sites are accidentally disturbed. Quick action is required to ensure youngsters are returned to their parents in a timely manner, allowing the family unit to remain intact.

Call the wildlife hospital if you have concerns about an animal nesting in your yard or if you encounter a wild animal you believe may be injured or orphaned. Hospital staff is very knowledgeable about the nesting habitats of many species of native wildlife and will do their best to ensure each animal’s safety.

Recent Releases

Two adult red-bellied woodpeckers, a burrowing owl, an eastern cottontail, a black vulture, a Florida box turtle, an opossum, a blue jay, a loggerhead shrike, three mourning doves, five mottled ducklings, a common grackle and a Florida red-bellied turtle were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Support the Conservancy’s mission to protect native wildlife. The von Arx Wildlife Hospital hosted a virtual Wildlife Hospital Baby Shower on June 6 raising awareness and support for the hospital’s youngest patients.

Hospital staff is incredibly grateful to everyone who has already donated items in support of our work. Gifts can be donated online through the Conservancy’s Amazon Wish List through the month of June.

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