by Noel Pettingell
20 YEARS AGO/FROM JULY 1968 SPOONBILL
"AUSTIN~The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
has taken the first steps to protect the vanishing
Red-cockaded Woodpecker and add it to the rare and
endangered species list, according to Robert G.
Mauermann, deputy director of the Department. The
list is compiled by the Committee on Rare and Endangered Wildlife Species, Bureau of Sports Fisheries
and Wildlife of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The list contains approximately 100 species of...birds,
fish, mammals, reptiles and amphibians considered...
to be...in danger of extinction.
"The plight of the small woodpecker was
brought to light recently by long-time Department
Wildlife Biologist Dan Lay, stationed in Nacogdoches.
Lay, who has been studying the Red-cockaded Woodpecker for approximately 20 years, said the species,
once fairly abundant in the southern pine forests of
the United States, is becoming rare and may be
doomed in East Texas because of its habitat requirements. Of the several species of woodpecker in the
state, only the Red-cockaded requires a living pine
vigorous enough to produce gum freely but over 80
years of age and decadent enough to have redheart
disease, a fungus that softens and pemeates the
trees heartwood with small holes and damages the
value of the wood»«_aBd] eventually kills—the-tree.
"The Red-cockaded Woodpecker is zebra-backed
and has a black cap. The male's red cockade is tiny,
almost invisible. Similar species include the Red-
bellied Woodpecker which also has a zebra back but
may be distinguished by a red cap. The Red-
cockaded Woodpecker is more likely to be confused
with a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker but the white
cheek patch is the distinguishing mark, according to
Peterson's 'Field Guide to the Birds of Texas.'
"Lay, as well as ornithological publications,
says the woodpecker unerringly seeks out old pines
with redheart to chip out nesting sites. Once a suitable cavity has been excavated in the tree, the bird
waits until sticky pine sap exudes from the wound
and surrounds the entrance, then builds its nest.
Lay said the sap protects the birds' nesting site
from other birds and predators. 'How the bird unerringly finds a pine tree with redheart is a mystery,'
Lay said. 'Man first finds redheart when the tree
dies or is cut for the mill.' The bird prefers trees
in a park-like surrounding, such as old stands of long-
leaf pine. Seldom will the birds inhabit trees in the
heavier, darker areas of a pine forest. The inability
to adapt to changing habitat conditions has been
listed as the underlying cause for the extinction of
many species, including the Dinosaur.
"Lay said the type of trees required by the
Red-cockaded Woodpecker are customarily cut by
landowners and sent to the mill because of the slow
growth rate and because the redheart disease will
...kill the tree and make it useless as saw timber.
"But the woodpecker's plight has not fallen on
deaf ears. Meetings between the Department personnel and the U.S. Forest Service has secured a de
gree of protection for such trees in four national
forests in Texas consisting of 657,000 acres. John
Courtenay of Lufkin, Supervisor of the Texas National Forests, says saving such trees in the national
forests fits very well in the Service's program of
wise multiple use of forestlands and that this program has already been added to their operation
manuals. 'It's a small thing to protect an inhabited
tree or one that is desirable for the endangered
woodpecker,' he said. 'I've seen eight of the trees
and four of the birds.1 Courtenay says the service
plans to locate and map inhabited trees as well as
those which would make suitable habitat and preserve
them for future use of the woodpecker.
—From the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
NEWS LETTER dated 5-8-68."
Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge has added
additional "open house" weekends to this year's
schedule. The first weekend of every month, not
just October through May, will be an "open house"
weekend, when birders can visit the refuge between
8 a.m. and 5 p.m. without previous arrangement.
This refuge offers interesting birds all year. It is
most generous of them to add these extra weekends.
Take County Road 227 off FM 523 between Angle-
ton and Freeport to reach the refuge.
SPECIAL REQUEST - OWL PELLETS
by Birtl HeClure
I have an interest in examining owl pellets for
the purpose of determining the animals used as food
by owls and the ranges of the animals that are
preyed upon by owls. It is requested that anyone
who encounters or is aware of owl roosts and is
willing to collect pellets for this effort please contact me. This can be on a periodic or one-time
basis for this long-term project. Thanks. Bill
McClure, 6218 Doliver, Houston TX 77057. Office
phone 875-1400, home 781-1639.
PROGRAM AND ALUMINUM CHAIRMEN NEEDED
The Ornithology Group resumes its monthly
meetings starting in August. Ed Rozenburg, our new
Ornithology Group Chairman has set up some programs for the coming year, but he needs a Program
Chairman to fill out the schedule. Here is your
chance to set up some programs you have been
wishing for. Also, anyone who has taken slides of
birds on a vacation trip and would like to present
a program, let the Chairman know.
We need an Aluminum Chairman as well. Aluminum is now bringing a good price, and this addition
to our treasury is very important. It can provide
our donation to the Breeding Bird Atlas for the year,
for example. MEMBERS: Collect your drink cans
and bring them to the August meeting.
Volunteers for the chairmanships please contact
Ed Rozenburg at the August meeting or at 481-4695.