Over the past 20 years, the National Forests in Florida have played a critical role in recovering the red-cockaded woodpecker.
The red-cockaded woodpecker is a small bird measuring about seven inches long and identified by its white cheek patch and black and white barred back.
More than 530 red-cockaded woodpeckers have been moved from the Apalachicola National Forests to the Osceola National Forests under the National Forest in Florida Translocation Program.
Endangered birds, like the red-cocked woodpecker, are being relocated in order to boost their number across the southeastern United States.
“By doing so we provide an invaluable source of red-cocked woodpeckers to support regional translocation needs,” said Carl Petrick, U.S. Forest Service ecosystem manager.
In one month, 46 birds were captured and translocated to the Desoto National Forest in Mississippi, the Dupuis Reserve, the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area in Palm Beach County, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and the Apalachicola National Forest Wakulla District.
“The Apalachicola National Forest has the largest concentration of the RCW, they provide artificial housing for the endangered bird,” said Oghenekome Onokpise, associate dean of the College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture at Florida A&M. “This is a very good program for the protection of threatened and endangered species.”
The forest service ecosystem manager said there are two major factors in the RCWs recovery.
“The two biggest advances in red-cockaded woodpecker recovery to date have been the development of artificial cavity technology and translocation of juvenile woodpeckers,” Petrick said.
Chuck Hess, a Forest Service Wildlife biologist urges people to quickly move to prevent the population of the RCW’s extinction. Hess has overseen and monitored the RCW since 1989.