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RCW Project Builds Momentum at Warren Prairie

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Monday, November 24, 2014

Two new male and two female Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (Picoides borealis) are making themselves at home at Warren Prairie Natural Area (WPNA). Last month, ANHC and The Nature Conservancy released four Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (RCW) at WPNA as an additional step toward repatriating a self-sustaining population of this endangered species at this location. These RCWs came from the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana and the process of getting them to WPNA included an overnight trip from Louisiana and a pre-dawn placement in their new home here in Arkansas.

This latest release complements the previous successful releases done annually since the fall of 2010 and productive nesting by those birds that have remained there. This successful repatriation project has built the RCW population at WPNA from zero birds prior to the 2010 release to over 20 birds (19 adults and six juveniles) just prior to this release, with momentum towards reaching our short-term goal of 10 nesting pairs.

The RCW was once common throughout forests in south Arkansas, including the WPNA area. However, altered fire regimes and the conversion of these forests to young pine stands and other uses drastically reduced the open, park-like, mature pine habitat in which this and associated species such as northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) flourish.

banding a RCW

ANHC and partners actively manage open pine habitat through regular prescribed fire implementation and other means to ensure that populations of RCW and their associates continue to grow in The Natural State.

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