Science Diary: Red-Cockaded – Cavities

music; ambience

DE: “Larger species like red-bellied woodpeckers, red-headed woodpeckers, they’re a little more aggressive. They can kick these birds out of the cavity and use it as their own.”

Spend up to a year carving out a home in a tree, and then boom you’ve got to start all over again. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. For the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers of Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp, Longleaf pine trees are the most coveted real estate the place to excavate a nest cavity. Wildlife biologist Dean Easton.

DE: “When they make their cavities, they’ll start a hole in the bark, and then work on that outer bark where there’s sapwood, where the sap is running up the tree, usually for quite a while. And it will take them quite a while to make a cavity, several months, or six months, or a year. The trees heal themselves around any wounds they have, so those entrance tunnels that are made in the tree, once the sap dries up, it’s healed. And then the inside of the tree, or the heartwood, is usually what they excavate the cavity down into, it’s usually a softer wood, and they can peck out that a little bit easier, especially as the tree gets older. The bigger the tree, typically, the more heartwood it has, and the easier it is to excavate the cavities, which is why these birds need large trees.”

To compensate for habitat loss and competition for nesting sites, biologists like Dean Easton construct boxes that are placed within trees and fitted with plastic entrance tunnels. A metal guard is installed to prevent other species from pecking out larger entrance holes for themselves.

Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Science Diary: Red-Cockaded - Cavities

Red-cockaded woodpeckers have specific home-site needs, and once their nest cavities are built, larger species have no qualms commandeering them.
Air Date:06/20/2011
Scientist:
Transcript:

music; ambience

DE: "Larger species like red-bellied woodpeckers, red-headed woodpeckers, they're a little more aggressive. They can kick these birds out of the cavity and use it as their own."

Spend up to a year carving out a home in a tree, and then boom you've got to start all over again. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. For the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers of Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp, Longleaf pine trees are the most coveted real estate the place to excavate a nest cavity. Wildlife biologist Dean Easton.

DE: "When they make their cavities, they'll start a hole in the bark, and then work on that outer bark where there's sapwood, where the sap is running up the tree, usually for quite a while. And it will take them quite a while to make a cavity, several months, or six months, or a year. The trees heal themselves around any wounds they have, so those entrance tunnels that are made in the tree, once the sap dries up, it's healed. And then the inside of the tree, or the heartwood, is usually what they excavate the cavity down into, it's usually a softer wood, and they can peck out that a little bit easier, especially as the tree gets older. The bigger the tree, typically, the more heartwood it has, and the easier it is to excavate the cavities, which is why these birds need large trees."

To compensate for habitat loss and competition for nesting sites, biologists like Dean Easton construct boxes that are placed within trees and fitted with plastic entrance tunnels. A metal guard is installed to prevent other species from pecking out larger entrance holes for themselves.

Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.