Species Profile: Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis

Learn more about this species in the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America.

Introduction to the species

“Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are the bellwethers of an ecosystem that once covered 200 million acres, basically all of the old confederacy, and today 99 percent of that is gone. … The entire ecosystem in that vast, vast area has been completely turned upside down.”
-J. Neal 2007

In 1970, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally listed the Red-cockaded Woodpecker as a federally endangered species. Since then, it has become one of the best-studied woodpeckers on Earth. At first, we learned how to maintain the small extant populations, and slowly these populations grew. As we learned more about the species’ ecology, we began to manage the forests so that its habitat could grow. We learned about the critical role that fire plays in these habitats, and we learned much about the species’ complex social system.

Gallery of photos of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker by Steve Shunk

Return to List of Species of North American Woodpeckers page.

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