New Population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers on Dixie Plantation Established

RCW Just before the Thanksgiving break, staff with the Stoddard Bird Lab completed the first phase of work needed to establish a new population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers on Dixie Plantation.  With help from Georgia DNR biologists Joe Burnam, Zach Henshaw, and Phil Spivey, 7 juvenile male and female woodpeckers were captured on properties in the Red Hills region, transported to Dixie, and released the following morning.

This is the second attempt to establish a new woodpecker population in the Red Hills region using translocation. A similar effort initiated on Tall Timbers Research Station in 2006, has now grown from zero to 14 breeding territories, and provided an important hub of active woodpecker territories in the southwest corner of the Red Hills region. 

Similar growth on Dixie over the next few years could yield another hub of 10-12 breeding territories in the southeast corner of the region, and help to stabilize other nearby woodpecker populations.

“We’ll be monitoring where these woodpeckers settle over the next week or so and then conduct another move of 2-3 individuals,” says Rob Meyer, woodpecker conservation specialist at  Tall Timbers. 

“We’re especially hopeful a lone male will take over one of the clusters of cavity trees we excavated and claim the territory as his own,” Meyer adds. “We can then capture and relocate a female to the territory and increase the chances of having a breeding group significantly established.”

The work is being performed under a Safe Harbor Agreement that Dixie Plantation has with the State of Florida. The Longleaf Stewardship Fund of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is providing financial support for this initial phase of reintroduction work.  The Longleaf Stewardship Fund supports recovery of iconic species such as the Red-cockaded Woodpecker through habitat enhancement and active management.

Photo: Red-cockaded Woodpecker caught at night and released in the morning on Dixie Plantation.