March through July
Louisiana’s long-leaf pine forests are home to the nesting Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Bachman’s Sparrow, Pine Warbler and Eastern Bluebird. These forests are relatively open with a grassy understory and fire is an important management tool to maintain the open understory. The Red-cockaded Woodpecker, a Federally-listed Endangered Species, builds its nest in mature live long-leaf pine trees, which are weakened by a fungal disease called Red Heart Disease. Diseased trees are weakened to the point that the woodpeckers can excavate a nest cavity. The nest hole of a Red-cockaded is distinctive from all of our other woodpeckers because the opening is lined and oozing with sap. This gooey entrance discourages potential predators. Most, if not all nesting trees are also identified by wildlife managers with a painted ring near the base of the trunk.
Both Brown-headed Nuthatch and Eastern Bluebird nest in natural or woodpecker-excavated cavities (bluebirds also in boxes). Brown-headed Nuthatch nests are found in well-rotted pine snags and sometimes under loose bark. The Pine Warbler builds its nest on tree branches. The Bachman’s Sparrow nests on the ground in grassy areas, but males sing from a high perch, often in the mid-story of pine trees.
To look for the Red-cockaded Woodpecker and others listed here visit Big Branch NWR (site 12-7).