The Virginia population of red-cockaded woodpeckers is the northernmost throughout the species range and has been in eminent danger of extinction for more than 30 years. The Piney Grove Preserve represents a nucleus for recovery in the state and the focus of a multi-organizational partnership designed to increase the population to a sustainable level. The partnership has executed a program of aggressive habitat management, cavity-tree management and woodpecker population monitoring and management that has resulted in a quadrupling of the breeding population since the early 2000s. During the 2020 breeding season, Piney Grove Preserve supported 15 potential breeding groups (including one in the Big Woods) that produced 30 fledglings. All groups made breeding attempts, including the cluster in Big Woods for the second time, though two clusters (cluster 8 and Big Woods) failed to produce fledglings. The population as a whole had a reproductive rate of 2.0 ±0.31 (mean±SE) young/breeding group. The 15 groups that made breeding attempts had a success rate of 86.7% (13 of 15). Fledging rate for the 13 productive pairs was 2.3±0.64. Of the 63 eggs followed in 2020, 34 (54.0%) hatched, 34 (54.0%) survived to banding age, and 30 (47.6%) fledged. Birds that fledged included 21 females and 9 males. Seventeen of these birds were retained and detected during the winter count and four (two males and two females) were translocated to Great Dismal Swamp, NWR on 07–08 October. During the calendar year of 2020, 102 individual red-cockaded woodpeckers were identified within Piney Grove Preserve including 72 birds that were hatched at Piney Grove during previous years and 30 nestlings that fledged during the 2020 breeding season. Thirty-one birds (41%) were in their fourth year or more and nine birds (10%) were at least in their tenth year. One bird was 16 years old (17th calendar year). Moving into the breeding season there were 67 birds identified within Piney Grove Preserve distributed among 15 clusters. This is the most birds Piney Grove has carried heading into the breeding season (two more than in 2017 and 2019). The number of birds per cluster varied from two to seven with a mean of 4.33±0.45 (mean+SE). Eighty birds were detected during the 2020 winter survey. This represents a 5% increase over the winter of 2019 and a 13% increase over the winter of 2018. Birds present during the winter survey included 17 of the 30 birds fledged in 2020 and 63 adult birds hatched in previous years. Group size in winter ranged from two to nine birds and averaged 5.04 ± 0.50 (mean±SE) birds per group.
The Center for Conservation Biology Technical Report Series, CCBTR-21-03. William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA.
Watts, B. D.; Hines, C.; Duval, L.; and Paxton, B. J., "Investigation of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers in Virginia: Year 2020 Report" (2021). CCB Technical Reports. 670.