The Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Researcher holding a Red-cockaded Woodpecker, examining wing

The red-cockaded woodpecker (also referred to as the RCW) is about the size of a common cardinal or robin; approximately 7 inches long, with a wingspan of about 15 inches.

Primary habitat of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW), the longleaf pine ecosystem, has been reduced to three percent of its original expanse. This reduction of suitable habitat led to a rapid decline of RCWs and resulted in the bird being listed as endangered in 1970.

The longleaf pine and grassy understory on Big Branch Marsh NWR is home for multiple breeding pairs of RCWs.

Today’s RCW populations, especially small ones, will not increase to viable sizes without human intervention. Several management techniques have been responsible for increasing RCW populations.

The refuge uses prescribed fire to maintain existing longleaf pine habitat, and installation of artificial tree cavities also directly benefits the small population of RCWs found here.

Check out the RCW's  Species Profile 

Learn more about RCW Recovery