[va-bird] Five Red-cockaded Woodpeckers translocated into VA population

  • From: "Mike Wilson" <mdwils@xxxxxx>
  • To: "VA List Serv" <va-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2005 14:43:24 -0400

On 29 September, 2005 Bryan Watts from the Center for Conservation Biology, Neal Humke from The Nature Conservancy, and Sergio Harding from the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries traveled down to Carolina Sandhillls National Wildlife Refuge to capture and translocate Red-cockaded Woodpeckers to the Piney Grove Preserve in Sussex County. The Virginia contingent joined with refuge biologists led by Laura Shriver to capture the birds.

Five individuals including 2 males and 3 females were taken from their roost cavities between 6:00 and 11:00 PM. Birds were transported in covered, carrying boxes to Piney Grove through the night. The team arrived at Piney Grove around 4:00 in the morning and were met by Brian van Eerden, Mike Wilson, Bobby Clontz, and Chris Lotts. A male and female were placed in each of two recruitment clusters in the hope of forming two new pairs for the 2006 breeding season and the third female was placed in a recruitment cluster with a lone male in the hope that they will form a breeding pair. Birds were placed in artificial cavities 30-40 feet above the ground in live loblolly pines and screened in for release at dawn. Screens were removed from cavities between 7:00 and 7:30 and all birds emerged beautifully and flew up into crowns, calling, foraging, and interacting with other birds.

Since 2001, partnership organizations have collaborated to introduce 21 birds from Carolina Sandhills to Piney Grove including 11 males and 10 females. All of these birds have been young-of-the-year that have been moved in mid fall to take advantage of the species' natural period of dispersal. The focus of this program is to bolster the Virginia population and to provide much needed genetic diversity. The first breeding of a translocated bird in Virginia was documented in 2003. In 2004, 2 of the 4 breeding pairs included translocated birds.

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker is the most endangered bird species in Virginia. The population reached a low of only 2 breeding pairs in 2002. Work with this fragile population is supported by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and the Center for Conservation Biology at William and Mary.

Bryan Watts

Center for Conservation Biology

submitted for Bryan by

Mike Wilson

Center for Conservation Biology
College of William and Mary
PO Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
phone: 757-221-1649
fax: 757-221-1650


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  • » [va-bird] Five Red-cockaded Woodpeckers translocated into VA population