Fort Benning, Georgia, is one of the most active military bases in the world. But its thousands of acres also contain longleaf pine forests where endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers nest. It takes years for a woodpecker to excavate a nest cavity. To help the species, biologists climb high into the trees to carve out nest cavities that will satisfy the birds.
You can hear more about the efforts to save woodpeckers at Fort Benning on the Threatened podcast.
Fort Benning’s Woodpecker Sanctuary
Adapted by Conor Gearin from the Threatened podcast episode produced by Ari Daniel and Claire Reynolds
This is BirdNote.
[Red-cockaded Woodpecker call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/73890 0:06-0:08]
Fort Benning, Georgia, is one of the most active military bases in the world. But it’s also home to endangered wildlife. James Parker is the Natural Resources Branch Chief at the base.
James Parker: [00:04:21] That's a frequent noise out here: loud booms from tanks and artillery. But that's the main reason we have what we have here. What the military does is basically made this whole installation like a sanctuary.
[Red-cockaded Woodpecker call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/73890 continues under)
Setting aside thousands of acres for military training has also preserved longleaf pine forests where Red-cockaded Woodpeckers nest. But it takes years for a woodpecker to excavate a nest cavity, more time than this endangered species has to spare. So biologists like John Doresky climb high into the trees to carve out and construct the nest cavities for the birds.
John Doresky: There are men and women climbing trees, 30, 40, 50, 60, sometimes 70 feet in the air. So just think about that. Seven ladders that you're going to schlep into the woods with all your other stuff, chainsaws, buckets, boxes, nails, hammers...
These artificial homes have helped bring the Red-cockaded Woodpecker back from the brink.
[Red-cockaded Woodpecker drumming, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/73924, 0:20-0:21]
[Red-cockaded Woodpecker call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/73890
You can hear more about the efforts to save woodpeckers at Fort Benning on the Threatened podcast. Listen in your podcast app or at BirdNote.org. I’m Ari Daniel.
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Production Manager: Allison Wilson
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Digital Producer: Conor Gearin
Field recordings: Claire Reynolds
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Red-cockaded Woodpecker ML 73890 and ML 73924 recorded by G. Keller.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2021 BirdNote August 2021 Narrator: Ari Daniel
ID# RCWO-03-2021-08-09 RCWO-03