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Red-cockades Peck Their Way Through N.C. Longleaf Pines

Cara J

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About the size of a bluebird, the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker is approximately 7 inches long, with black and white horizontal stripes across its back. The red-cockaded woodpecker’s most distinguishing feature is its large white cheek patches. Only the male of the species has a small red streak on each side of its black cap which is called a cockade. Seven days old. ©Susan L. Miller/USFWS The red-cockaded woodpecker makes its home in mature pine forests across the Southeastern United States. Longleaf pines (Pinus palustris) are commonly preferred, but other species of southern pine are also used. While other woodpeckers bore out cavities in dead trees, the red-cockaded woodpecker is the only bird which excavates cavities exclusively in living pine trees. Cavities generally take several years to excavate. Red-cockaded woodpeckers are territorial, non-migratory, cooperative breeders. They live in family groups which usually contain a breeding pair and one or more helpers which are usually male offspring raised in previous years. Juvenile females generally leave the group before the next breeding season, in search of solitary males. In the spring, the breeding female lays three to four eggs in the breeding male’s roost cavity. Once the eggs are laid, all group [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/red-cockades-peck-their-way-through-n-c-longleaf-pines/

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