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RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER006 | by Robert Strickland
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Today I decided to go to the Withlacoochee State Forest to photograph the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. These woodpeckers are an endangered species. I left the house early so I could be in the forest just as light was breaking. The best time to see them is a first light throughout early morning and evening. I knew where some nest sites were in the Citrus tract of the forest. When I got to the nesting site area, I listened intently for sounds of the woodpeckers and was surprised as a pair flew into a nearby tree, but soon vanished.


I thought if I could find an active nest cavity I would have good luck. I scanned the pine tree’s looking for an active nest by looking for pine sap dis-colorization. When using the nesting hole the sap bleeds" pitch around the nest hole. The heavy flow of gum helps keep predators away from the nest.


As I scanned the pines I saw some movement in one of the nesting cavities. I immediately setup my equipment and moved toward the tree. I set up away from the tree so not to disturb the birds in the nest. However nothing happened. I did not see any more movement in the nest or the surround trees.


I decide to get out my cell phone which I keep some birds calls on. I played the Red-cockaded Woodpecker sound and suddenly the forest came to life. A pair of Red-cockaded Woodpecker came by and perched in a tree nearby, somewhat out of Range. I soon discovered if I made a call they would fly by and land in nearby trees. They have distinct sound when they fly. I just listened to the sound and I could keep track of them. As they got more accustomed to me they came closer and I was able to get some photos.


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Taken on April 22, 2011