Composition of mixed-species foraging flocks associated with red-cockaded woodpeckers
Red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis are known to be regular members of mixed species foraging flocks. We censused avian species associated with foraging red-cockaded woodpeckers in longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) habitat and in mixed loblolly pine (P. taeda)-shortleaf pine (P. echinata) habitat in eastern Texas during the non-breeding season. We also sensused random points in similar habitat. A statistical evaluation of hte cnsus dat indicated which species were most likely to be associated with red-cockaded woodpeckers. A large percentage of the species detected were significantly more likely to be found with these mixed-species flocks than at random points. Behavioral observations revealed that hte foraging flock begins to assemble in the vicinity of the red-cockaded woodpecker cavity tree cluster well before the emergence of the woodpeckers. This assemblage indicates that red-cockaded woodpeckers are an important constituent of the foraging flock. Red-cockaded woodpeckers fit most of the characteristics used to describe nuclear members of foraging flocks, such as conspicuous plumage and vocalization. They also appear to be joined and followed more often than they themselves join and follow other species.