What is this RHWO doing? Ask us!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you can't find an answer on the website, feel free to send us your questions. We'll do our best to answer - Where can I find Red-headed Woodpeckers? Red-heads like open woods with large trees. They often occur in groups or clusters. See Red-head Info for an overview of range, habitat and migration information. What should I do if I find Red-headed Woodpeckers? We'd like to know about groups of nesting red-heads. Go to Report Red-heads for information and instructions. You'll find a Cluster Documentation Form there.
If I leave dead or dying wildlife trees standing, isn't that bad for the other trees?
Dead wildlife trees are a natural part of a healthy, mature forest. They are required to maintain forest diversity. They gradually give up nutrients to the surrounding forest. Dead trees provide openings in the canopy, a chance for new growth and are an invaluable resource for Red-headed Woodpeckers and many other species.
If a tree is clearly dead, it does not threaten the health of trees nearby and it may be left as a wildlife tree. Insects and other animals that use dead wildlife trees will not bother a healthy tree.
The key exception is with American elms that have died due to Dutch elm disease. To prevent the spread of Dutch elm disease to other elms, either the tree should be removed or, at a minimum, the bark of the tree should be removed and burned.
If a tree is stressed and becoming decadent, its threat to nearby trees should be evaluated. Sick trees are possible nurseries for agents that can threaten other stressed trees and sometimes even healthy trees.
In Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Extension can provide analysis and advice regarding garden and forest questions.
What's so important about Red-headed Woodpeckers?
Due largely to our management practices, Red-headed Woodpecker populations have declined dramatically since 1967.
Abundance of red-heads also impacts many other species. Red-heads are primary cavity excavators. They create tree holes for nesting, food storage and roosting. Once abandoned, these cavities become sites for secondary cavity nesters, birds that will not create their own holes but depend on holes left by others. These species include bluebirds, swallows, wrens, flycatchers, kestrels, screech-owls as well as others. Loss of red-heads can have a wide impact.