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Endangered woodpecker has mediocre breeding season in Virginia

The Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary said the woodpeckers' reproductive rate was lower than the past three years.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers had a so-so breeding year in Virginia.

The Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary said that the state's woodpecker reproductive rate was lower than the past three years.

Red-cockaded woodpeckers have made a recent comeback in Virginia, recording their highest population numbers last year since the early 1980s.

Credit: Photo by Bryan Watts
A 7-day-old woodpecker sleeps through its extraction from a nest cavity within Piney Grove Preserve. Young woodpeckers are extracted before 10 days of age for banding.

The birds require old growth pine savannas maintained by fire and their population levels have declined because of a loss of habitat.

The woodpeckers live in the Nature Conservancy's Piney Grove Preserve and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.