Moving in

Much of our work early in the field season is made up of daily nest checks. Once volunteers on the project locate potentially active red-headed woodpecker nests—by observing birds entering or leaving a cavity, excavating a cavity, defending a territory, or exhibiting courtship behaviors—we confirm whether the nest is active by hoisting our telescoping measuring pole toward the nest cavity, inserting the attached camera, and taking a look.


How to catch a red-headed woodpecker - illustration by Megan Massa

The thrill of seeing something on the camera never gets old. This year we spent time conducting some additional surveys after we noticed eastern bluebirds going in and out of cavities that had been excavated and used by red-headed woodpeckers in previous years. We found many empty cavities... and made a few exciting discoveries! It would be exciting to learn more about why red-headed woodpeckers decide its time to move on or if interspecific competition may play a role in who moves in...either way these cavities seem like a hot real estate commodity. We're looking forward to more discoveries!


Eastern Bluebird eggs in red-headed woodpecker cavity, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Northern flying squirrel in red-headed woodpecker cavity, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Red-bellied woodpecker eggs in red-headed woodpecker cavity, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Female red-bellied woodpecker tending to nestlings in red-headed woodpecker cavity, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

© 2018 Elena West

All rights reserved. Images used with permission.