By Jim Cox, Vertebrate Ecology Scientist
There’s been a big jump in the acreage of properties enrolled in the Safe Harbor Program. Gem Land Company, owner of Cherokee, Norias, Ring Oak, and El Destino plantations, signed up for Safe Harbor earlier this year and sent the acreage of Red Hills’ properties enrolled above the 134,000-acre mark. Good quail and timber management often can be attractive to endangered species like the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, but Safe Harbor provides Gem Land with an important assurance that it will not be penalized should Red-cockaded Woodpeckers increase as a result of good land stewardship. The signing also makes Gem Land Company eligible for federal cost-share programs that can help improve conditions for quail and other pine-grassland species.
An Underwhelming Woodpecker Season
The Red-cockaded Woodpecker nesting season is coming to a close, but the results are underwhelming. We typically see 2-3 chicks per nest, but the numbers this year have been in the 1-2 range. We had a record number of nests (5) in our nascent population on Tall Timbers, including a successful nest produced by a female that hatched on Tall Timbers last year. This is noteworthy simply because all other nesting attempts have been initiated by translocated juveniles, not woodpeckers that hatched on the property.
Photos: Top right, Jim Cox on climbing ladder places captured RCW chick in bag for banding. Middle, Jim extracts chick from nest cavity. Bottom, banded RCW chick.
Welcome to Dr. James Tucker
The Vertebrate Ecology Program is very excited to have Dr. James Tucker working with us for the next several months. Dr. Tucker has published dozens of papers on Bachman’s Sparrows and some of the other little brown jobs found in pine-grassland forests. He’s here on a 6-month post-doctoral appointment. Dr. Tucker already has completed a breeding bird survey of the famous NB66 research plot (Not Burned since 1966) that will help to document continued successional trends on this plot. He’ll also be working on the Wade Tract testing new field methods for quantifying Bachman’s Sparrow productivity. The methods may be an important tool for assessing population stability and growth potential.
Dr. James Tucker