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About Us

The Red-headed Woodpecker Research and Recovery Project is a partnership of the University of Minnesota's Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, the Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota, the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis' Red-headed Woodpecker Recovery Program (RhWR), and Dr. Henry Streby at the University of Toledo, Ohio.

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (Cedar Creek) is a biological field station owned and operated by the University of Minnesota. Located just 35 miles north of downtown Minneapolis, Cedar Creek is an incredible natural laboratory for ecological research, teaching, education and community engagement. The reserve’s 5600 acres contain an astonishing diversity of ecosystems, wildlife and long-term research experiments. In addition to cutting-edge research, Cedar Creek has a strong education and community engagement program that welcomes people of all ages to explore the outdoors and learn about science. We strive to be an inspiring catalyst and outstanding resource for lifelong science education in Minnesota and beyond. Our goal is to connect students, teachers, community members and scientists to the reserve’s ecological research and natural landscapes through engaging hands-on experiences, and as a result to increase science literacy and help our community better understand scientific principles, processes and concepts.

The Red-headed Woodpecker Recovery Program (RhWR) is a program of the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis. Since 2008, RhWR citizen scientists have monitored and conducted research in Cedar Creek’s oak savannas to learn more about woodpecker nesting and habitat preferences, breeding and nest ecology. This project is particularly notable since red-headed woodpeckers are in decline throughout Minnesota and the rest of their range, but appear to be stable at Cedar Creek. Throughout the summer, trained volunteer citizen scientists survey specific areas of the oak savanna and collect data for the project.


Our collaborative effort is guided by a research committee that includes representatives from our partner organizations. This leadership team provides expertise in all areas of red-headed woodpecker monitoring and research, and helps provide direction for efforts to guide best management practices for landowners and land management agencies engaged in oak savanna restoration activities.


While leadership and staff are essential in providing structure for this partnership, organization staff, volunteers, citizen scientists, educators, and many others provide the foundation for red-headed woodpecker monitoring, research, and habitat restoration efforts throughout Minnesota and the Midwest.


Dr. Elena West

Postdoctoral Researcher

Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
University of Minnesota 
Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology

Dr. Caitlin Barale Potter

Education and Community

Engagement Coordinator

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

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