Investigation of red-cockaded woodpeckers in Virginia: 2012 report

M. D. Wilson, The Center for Conservation Biology
B D. Watts, The Center for Conservation Biology
C Lotts, The Center for Conservation Biology
F M. Smith, The Center for Conservation Biology

Abstract

Two-thousand twelve was a champion year for Red-cockaded Woodpecker recovery at the Piney Grove Preserve with new high marks for breeding pairs, population size and breeding productivity. Ten successful breeding attempts were documented in 2012 reaching an initial recovery goal for the Nature Conservancy property and the highest number of breeding groups since Piney Grove Preserve has been monitored. The Preserve gained one more breeding group this season to reach this new high mark. The additional breeding group was a direct result from the installation of a new artificial recruitment cluster in the summer of 2011. A modern day high of 26 chicks survived to fledge from the 10 successful nests. A total of 71 Red-cockaded Woodpeckers were identified within Piney Grove preserve in 2012. This included 45 birds that were hatched at Piney Grove from previous years and the 26 fledglings produced during the 2012 breeding season. Forty-four adult birds were believed to be present within the Piney Grove Preserve going into the breeding season of 2012 (Table 1). This equals the highest spring total set in 2011 that collectively beat the previous high mark in spring of 2010 by 7 birds and almost triple the number counted in 2002 when only 16 birds were present. Fifty-three birds were detected during the winter survey. This includes 39 adult birds hatched at Piney Grove before 2012 and 14 of the 26 birds fledged during the 2012 breeding season. This is a gain of 6 birds in the winter population from 2011. The Red-cockaded Woodpecker population continues to set high marks at Piney Grove Preserve as a result of many years of population, habitat, and cavity tree management.