The red-cockaded woodpecker, on the federal endangered species list since the 1970s, has been making a population comeback thanks to conservation efforts to restore the longleaf pine.

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A pair of red-cockaded woodpeckers forage for insects to eat.  These birds spend almost their entire life in the overstory of the tree canopy, rarely coming down to the ground, if ever.

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At the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, trees that have a white ring around them have (or had) red-cockaded woodpecker homes in them.

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Unlike other woodpecker species, red-cockaded woodpeckers make their homes in living trees. They strongly prefer the longleaf pine tree as their habitat. As part of their defense strategy, red-cockaded woodpeckers will drill small sap wells into the tree trunk below their nest. This causes sap to drip, which helps prevent snakes and other predators from reaching the nest.

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Cooperative breeding - where several birds will share in the care of the newly hatched birds - is another trait of the red-cockaded woodpecker. Many of the juvenile birds born the previous year will help out by taking a turn to incubate the eggs or bring insects to keep hungry hatchlings fed.

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As the red-cockaded woodpecker makes its home high up in the longleaf pine tree, the hardened trails of sap that cover 3-10 feet of the tree trunk are a good indicator that a red-cockaded nest may be in the tree.

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A male hatchling pokes its head out to look for an adult bird to bring it more insects. The red patch on its head will disappear as it grows older.

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One of the struggles for the red-cockaded woodpecker is the survival rate among nestlings. It's estimated that fewer than half survive each year, with only about 25% of the female birds making it through the season.

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Some red-cockaded woodpeckers have adapted well to using manmade cavities for their homes.

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