Friday, March 29, 2013

Quest for the Red-Cockaded

One of North Carolina's "specialties" is the Red-cockaded woodpecker, a diminutive fellow that depends entirely on Longleaf Pine forests for its survival.  Unfortunately, Longleaf Pine forests were all but wiped out after European colonization, and the now-endangered species is isolated in a few pockets throughout the South.  One of their NC strongholds is Weymouth Woods, a state park created to preserve the longleaf pine habitat.  After an hour-and-then-some drive south to Southern Pines, my dad and I tried our luck at spotting one.  We started out optimistic.  Within minutes, we had seen four Pileated Woodpeckers (one of which was excavating a nest), two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and a Red-bellied woodpecker - all we had left to see was the Red-cockaded.  No luck.  We wandered around for what seemed like forever.  Every pecking noise caught my attention, and I would look up only to see a Brown-headed nuthatch, or some other denizen of the pine forest.  We spotted a nest cavity and waited around forever, but still couldn't spot the little woodpecker.  Unfortunately, we had a deadline to leave, so we left dissatisfied.  I said that I would have seen it if I had worn a different hat - my green one's mojo must have worn off.  Well, I can't always see everything.  I'll be back later this year...
I'm looking forward to a trip to the Northeast this week - there should be some different, more northerly birds.  Next stop: Parker River NWR in Massachusetts.

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