Monday, April 27, 2009

Woodpecker Season

Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis), Coosa County, Alabama, May 2007.
Photo by M. Bailey

I'm monitoring red-cockaded woodpeckers ("RCWs") for the tenth consecutive season this spring. Last week I found several nests in Coosa County (near Nick Sharp's coral snake discovery) and one in Chilton county, Alabama. Today I'm headed to Bullock County to remove some flying squirrels from cavities the birds need for nesting and roosting. The RCW has been listed as endangered since 1973 primarily due to habitat loss. Historically found from New Jersey to Texas, its range is now greatly restricted, and about 20,000 birds remain in 11 southern states. More than 90 percent are on public lands such as national forests and military reservations, and these populations are for the most part stable or increasing. Most populations on private lands are decreasing due to lack of proper management and isolation from other populations. In Alabama, the formerly widespread RCW survives today only on four National Forest districts, one area near Lake Mitchell north of Montgomery, and one private holding near Hurtsboro. More on RCWs later; time to hit the road...

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