An Endangered Speciel
Region Where It is Found
One of the few bird species endemic to the United States, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a bird of mature southern pine forests. Its preference for longleaf pine and the destruction of that habitat have resulted in the woodpecker becoming an endangered species.
Why It Is Endangered
RCWs were once considered common throughout the longleaf pine ecosystem, which covered approximately 90 million acres before European settlement.The longleaf pine ecosystem initially disappeared from much of its original range because of early (1700’s) European settlement, widespread commercial timber harvesting and the naval stores/turpentine industry (1800’s). Early to mid-1900 commercial tree farming, urbanization and agriculture contributed to further declines. Much of the current habitat is also very different in quality from historical pine forests in which RCWs evolved. Today, many southern pine forests are young and an absence of fire has created a dense pine/hardwood forest.
What is Being Done to Protect It
It is critical that hardwood midstory be controlled. Prescribed burning is the most efficient and ecologically beneficial method to accomplish hardwood midstory control.