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BIRD OF THE WEEK
RED COCKADED WOODPECKER
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Picoides borealis
POPULATION: 15,000 individuals
TREND: Decreasing population overall
HABITAT: Mature pine forest, usually longleaf pine, with sparse understor.
The dapper Red-cockaded Woodpecker was once a common sight throughout the mighty longleaf pine forests of the southern United States. Only the male sports the small red mark, or “cockade,” on its nape; this term harkens back to the early 1800s and refers to a ribbon or other ornament worn on a hat.
A specialist of open pine forests with large, old trees, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers require habitat normally maintained by periodic natural burns. Due to years of fire suppression and large-scale clearing, great swathes of southern pine forest have been lost, leaving the Red-cockaded Woodpecker dangerously close to extinction.