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    What Doesn't Kill The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker...

    NewsRare Birds NewsThursday 23 June 2011
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    ...makes it stronger, according to the University of Florida. A new study has found that the future of the endangered Florida bird, the red-cockaded woodpecker, may actually have been helped by a predator. Rat snakes were once thought to endanger the birds further but it has been discovered that they are actually beneficial to the survival of the rare bird species. The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

    Katie Sieving, a wildlife ecology and conservation professor, and co-author John Kappes, a former doctoral student in the department, found that rat snakes help the birds by eating species that commonly steal red-cockaded woodpecker nest cavities – such as red-bellied woodpeckers. However, despite steadily increasing red-cockaded woodpecker numbers, there are still fewer than 4,000 of the birds in Florida. At one time the species numbered in the millions across the U.S., but significant habitat reduction caused their decline.

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