New Woodpecker in a 10-Year-Old Insert!

New Woodpecker in a 10-Year-Old Insert!

By Caroline Ritchey, The Nature Conservancy, Moody Forest Intern

Exciting things are happening this summer at Moody Forest Natural Area on the Altamaha River.  Jointly owned and managed by Georgia DNR and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) since 2001, Moody Forest is managed to preserve and protect longleaf pine old growth forests, which is ideal habitat for rare species such as gopher tortoises, indigo snakes, and red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCWs).

This year not only yielded another successful nest from the long-time resident birds, a single cluster, but also the exciting discovery of a new bird in an unexpected place. Recently, Joe Burnam and Phil Spivey with Georgia DNR discovered some flaking bark and new resin-wells around an old artificial cavity insert.  Joe was assessing possible areas to install new RCW recruitment clusters. Since the insert itself is over ten years old, it was very unusual to find a new RCW using the cavity.

Chuck Martin of TNC was able to confirm that the RCW is in fact using that cavity as well as refreshing another insert nearby.  It seems that the new bird is male and un-banded.  If true, a new cluster of RCWs on Moody Forest has been started.

The area this bird has chosen for its new residence is one that experts would not expect.  “It’s been a difficult unit to burn and protect” says Martin.  With trees perhaps 100 + years in age and historically tapped for pine sap to make turpentine, the stand can be sensitive to burn during one of the regular prescribed fires.  “It takes a lot of manpower” says Martin as a lot of time is spent raking around or putting out trees, “however, it is rewarding to see the past several years of protecting the longleaf paying off. “.  It appears that the new resident agrees.

Image 1: A red-cockaded woodpecker at Moody Forest Natural Area in Baxley, GA. Photo by Chuck Martin.