Thursday, June 3, 2010

Red-headed Woodpecker

Since both banding stations are amazingly unproductive, I spent the afternoon "chasing" Red-headed Woodpeckers at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.  In any season, this park usually produces this relatively uncommon species. Today I immediately found at least one pair in the park's picnic area. "Chasing" is a poor verb.  I walked, the woodpeckers flew.  Totally unfair!  The birds fed on insect grubs (visible in the photo above) and acorns on the ground.

Why is this species uncommon?  Apparently this species ground-feeding habit makes it prone to automobile collisions and it is particularly susceptible to pesticides. This woodpecker's abundance, however, has varied widely for the past 200 years, and may be tied to fruiting trees and insect populations.

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