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Wildlife on the BrinkSoutheast : Red-Cockaded Woodpecker
Red-Cockaded WoodpeckerSpecies Gallery

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Picoides borealis

STATUS: Endangered

HABITAT: Old-growth pine forests

LIFE HISTORY: Forms cavities in mature trees often weakened by fungal infection; may roost in up to 20 trees on 60 acres. Maintains sap-flow at active cavities, presumably as protection against rat snakes and other predators.

THREATS: Habitat loss due to logging and other development

FORMER RANGE: Eastern Texas and Oklahoma to Florida, north to New Jersey


Red-cockaded woodpeckers live in family groups of three to four members, in which everyone pitches in to incubate eggs and help raise the young. They feed and nest exclusively in mature pine trees of the southeastern United States.
Only 75- to 100-year-old trees are broad enough for the woodpecker to forage for insects, and sturdy enough for them to bore out their nesting cavities. These cavities play an important role in forests, providing shelter throughout the years for other birds and even small mammals.
Large-scale logging and conversion of native pine forests to plantations has already wiped out the woodpeckers from several states, limiting these birds to just 1 percent of their former range. Today's managed forests can't provide the older trees that the woodpecker needs, and the remaining 12,500 endangered birds continue to be threatened by the logging of some of the last virgin forest in the Southeast, such as the Cumberland Plateau, an NRDC BioGem.
BioGems: Saving Endangered Wild Places
Photos: Everglades © National Park Service; Florida panther © USFWS; wood stork © Ryan Hagerty, USFWS; red cockaded woodpecker © John and Karen Hollingsworth, USFWS; Cumberland rosemary © Marc Evans, KSNPC
Feature Home Print Version Alaska Northwest California Rockies/Prairie Southwest Midwest Southeast Northeast Hawaii International Florida Panther Wood Stork Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Cumberland Rosemary

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