A Forest Service employee monitors a red-cockaded woodpecker to track population trends and to identify birds that may be moved to other populations as part of the species’ translocation program. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service/Chuck Hess
It isn’t often that an endangered species successfully recovers, which is why the story of the red-cockaded woodpecker is so inspiring.
Once found throughout 90 million acres of longleaf pine forests in the southeast, the red-cockaded woodpecker’s population on National Forest System lands today number approximately 3,150 active clusters of typically one to five birds each. This is a 60 percent increase from the low of 1,981 active clusters in 1990. Read more »
A Red-cockaded woodpecker flies from its natural nest cavity on the Francis Marion National Forest in September, 2009. (Photo credit: Martjan Lammertink)
Many stories emerging from the Francis Marion National Forest share a common genesis in Hurricane Hugo, the massive storm estimated to have knocked down nearly a billion board feet of timber on the coastal South Carolina forest in 1989.
But in a comeback success story, there was no knock-out for the red-cockaded woodpecker.
Before Hugo, the Francis Marion had the densest, second-largest, and only known, naturally increasing population of red-cockaded woodpeckers in the country. Prior to 1989, an estimated 475 breeding pairs lived on the forest. Read more »