|Conservation status||Endangered. Has disappeared from many areas of former occurrence, with ongoing decline documented in several regions. Total population perhaps under 10,000, many of these in isolated groups facing local extinction. Causes for decline include suppression of natural fires, over-cutting of pine forest in southeast.|
|Habitat||Open pine woodlands. Ideal habitat is mature pine woods (trees 80-100 or more years old), with very open understory maintained by frequent fires (the pines are fire-resistant). Most common in longleaf pine, but inhabits other pines as well, rarely cypress adjacent to pine woods.|
Forages mainly on pine trunks and branches, flaking off bits of bark in search of insects underneath. Family groups may forage together, males tending to forage on branches and upper trunk, females on lower trunk.
3-4, sometimes 2-5. White. Incubation is by both parents and to some extent by additional helpers; breeding male is on nest at night. Incubation period notably short, about 10-11 days. Young: Are fed by both parents and by helpers. Young leave nest at about 26-29 days. 1 brood per year, rarely 2.
Are fed by both parents and by helpers. Young leave nest at about 26-29 days. 1 brood per year, rarely 2.
Mostly insects. Feeds mainly on insects and other arthropods, especially ants and beetles, also termites, roaches, centipedes, and others. Also eats some wild fruits and pine seeds.
Taking part in nesting are the breeding pair plus 1-4 additional "helpers." These helpers are mostly males (70-95% of those studied) and mostly the breeding pair's offspring from previous seasons. Nest: Preferred sites are cavities excavated in large live pines infected with red heart fungus (which gives tree soft center inside solid outer shell). Cavity usually 30-40' above ground, can be much lower or higher (to well above 100'). Entrance surrounded by tiny holes from which sticky resin oozes out, protecting nest from climbing predators.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Generally permanent resident; may wander some distance, perhaps after habitat destruction. Young females often disperse farther away from birthplace than young males.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
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Songs and CallsA nuthatch-like yank-yank. Also a rattling scold note.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker
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Climate threats facing the Red-cockaded Woodpecker
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