VCU Rice Center

Photo of sunlit trees
News and events
July 30, 2013

Red-cockaded woodpeckers fledge 20 birds at Piney Grove Preserve
VCU Rice Center collaborator: Center for Conservation Biology

The red-cockaded woodpecker population at the Nature Conservancy’s Piney Grove Preserve had another good year of productivity in 2013 with the successful fledging of 20 birds from nine breeding pairs. This is the third consecutive year the population has produced at least 20 fledglings following bumper yields of 25 and 26 birds for 2011 and 2012, respectively. The slightly lower productivity for 2013 compared to the previous two years was due to a combination of one group not breeding and a lower than normal number of fledglings among the remaining breeding groups. However, among the successful breeders this year was a 13-year old male that has remained at his natal location and has held onto breeding status there since 2005.

The Piney Grove Preserve supports the only population of red-cockaded woodpeckers in Virginia and is the northernmost location for the species in the world. Since 2001, the number of birds and breeding groups has tripled with the help of population management, translocation, cavity competitor control, artificial cavity installation and a well-orchestrated regime of habitat management that includes prescribed fire and selective tree removal. Currently, the population is 51 adult birds and the 20 new fledglings (10 males and 10 females). We will follow up with another census in winter to determine the status and distribution of all individuals in the population. Typically, only 50-75 percent of the fledgling birds are still present during the winter survey.