Starter homes: Red-cockaded woodpecker

QUESTION
What is the only woodpecker species to excavate cavities in living pine trees?

ANSWER
The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (RCW).


QUESTION
What trees do RCWs use?

ANSWER
In South Florida, RCWs use slash pines — but not just any slash pine. The trees need to be over 80 years old to be soft enough to excavate.

QUESTION
What is one of the benefits of excavating in live trees?

ANSWER
Because the cavities are in live trees, excavation causes sap to flow, which helps protect the cavity from predators.


QUESTION
How long does it take for a RCW to excavate a cavity?

ANSWER
It can take several years.

Conservancy Policy Director Nicole Johnson & Science Director Kathy Worley (Kathy was more prepared than the rest of us for the vicious mosquitoes.)

QUESTION
How can people help?

ANSWER
There are many ways to help protect habitat for RCWs, including preservation of pine forests and appropriate land management, which includes thinning the understory vegetation to create a more open habitat.


QUESTION
Will RCWs actually use a manmade “prefabricated” starter home?

ANSWER
Yes! Installing artificial cavities in areas of appropriate habitat can facilitate RCW recruitment. The birds will utilize the artificial cavities while they excavate their own cavity.


QUESTION
How is the artificial cavity installed?

ANSWER
Watch the video above and view the pictures below.

For the past several years, the Conservancy has been working in coordination with a local golf course to install 4 RCW artificial cavities within the golf course’s preserve. Installation was performed by Monica Folk of Wild Folk, LLC.

The Conservancy would like to thank all those individuals and organizations who helped to make this happen. We especially want to thank Jeremy Sterk of Earth Tech Environmental for his help in facilitating this project and making it a reality.

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