Biologists boost red-cockaded woodpecker population in S. Fla.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Media contact: Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459
Several red-cockaded woodpeckers from Georgia and north Florida have a new home in south Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) released eight pairs of red-cockaded woodpeckers on state-managed lands in Palm Beach and Martin counties Oct. 25.
The red-cockaded woodpecker is listed as a federally endangered species. Biologists relocated the birds as part of the Southern Range Translocation Cooperative, whose goal is to boost smaller, isolated populations or reintroduce populations by relocating red-cockaded woodpeckers from other areas where the birds are numerous.
Five released pairs came from Fort Stewart in Georgia, an area that has a population of more than 300 red-cockaded woodpeckers. Biologists released these birds in the John G. and Susan H. Dupuis Jr. Wildlife and Environmental Area. The other three pairs, released in the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area, came from north Florida – Camp Blanding in Starke.
The red-cockaded woodpecker is a medium-sized bird with distinctive white cheek patches and a black-and-white barred back. Males have a tiny red patch or “cockade” behind the eye. These woodpeckers are very rare, because they require open stands of old-growth pine.
The birds live in small family groups, composed of one breeding pair and a helper or two. The extra birds usually are males from previous breeding seasons; females rarely stay with their parents. The helpers assist in raising the young, including feeding them and defending them against predators and territorial disputes. The entire family usually forages as a group, moving together from tree to tree. The woodpeckers feed primarily on ants, beetles, caterpillars, wood-boring insects, spiders and cockroaches, as well as fruits and berries.
Florida hosts approximately 25 percent of the nation’s red-cockaded woodpeckers. Most of Florida’s populations are on public lands and are carefully managed.
For more information about red-cockaded woodpeckers, visit MyFWC.com/Wildlife.