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Endangered bird visits Hamburg

FLY AWAY — This redheaded woodpecker was spotted in a tree at Lakeside Cemetery in Hamburg. Photo courtesy of Lakeside Cemetery and Michael Zebehazy.
HAMBURG — Michael Zebehazy, a birdwatcher at Lakeside Cemetery in Hamburg, spotted a nest of the redheaded woodpecker in Section K of the cemetery.

This bird is on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s “species of special concern” list. Criteria for placement on this list includes “any native species for which a welfare concern or risk of endangerment has been documented, in New York state.”

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, redheaded woodpeckers declined by 2.7 percent per year, on average, from 1966 – 2010, with a cumulative drop of 70 percent, due to habitat loss and changes to its food supply.

Redheaded woodpeckers help to disperse the plants whose seeds they store and eat. They also create nest cavities on which other birds and mammals depend. After the redheaded woodpeckers use a nest cavity, other birds and mammals may use it to nest.

These birds build their nests in dead or decaying trees in areas where there is little or no vegetation on the ground. They eat insects, fruits and seeds and often store their food by wedging it into tree crevices. The redheaded woodpecker is one of four North American woodpeckers known to store food and it is the only one known to cover the stored food with wood or bark.

Zebehazy alerted Lakeside Cemetery personnel that the nest, located in a cherry tree, has at least one chick. The tree is dead and had been slated for removal. When the office staff received the call and confirmed that a redheaded woodpecker nest is in the tree, the decision was made to postpone removal of the tree until after the birds have fledged.

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