The Red-cockaded Woodpecker: the rarest woodpecker species to inhabit southeastern pine forests is abundant in the Pearson Gap area. RCW trees can be located by the white bands painted around the bole of cavity trees.
The RCW has a complex social system. Individuals live in groups known as clusters: a breeding pair and up to four male offspring from previous years. These offspring help incubate eggs, as well as, brooding and feeding the nestlings. This team effort is vital to the species’ survival. Currently there are eight cluster sites in this area.
Beginning in mid-April, the female usually lays a clutch of three to five white eggs in the breeding male’s roost cavity. After about 12 days, the eggs hatch. The nestlings fledge in another 24 days, but remain with the group for at least six months. (note of caution about disturbance during breeding season)
Birds You May See in the Area:
Year-round: Wild Turkeys, American Kestrels, Eastern Screech-owls, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, White-breasted and Brown-headed nuthatches, Eastern Bluebirds, Pine Warblers, and Bachman’s and Chipping sparrows.
Summer: Common Nighthawks, Chuck-will’s-widows, Yellow-throated Vireos, Yellow-throated Warblers, and Summer Tanagers.
Winter: Merlins, Blue-headed Vireos, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned kinglets, Palm and Yellow-rumped warblers, and Dark-eyed Juncos.
Next — Proceed 0.09 miles along FS 745 to the next interpretive site on the right.