Red -cockaded woodpecker prefers to nest in open stands of pines with a minimum age of 8O to 12O years, depending on the site, provide suitable nesting habitat. Longleaf pines (Pinus palustris) are most commonly used, but other species of southern pine are also acceptable. Dense stands (stands that are primarily hardwoods, or that have a dense hardwood understory) are avoided. Foraging habitat is provided in pine and pine hardwood stands 3O years old or older with foraging preference for pine trees 1O inches or larger in diameter. In good, well-stocked, pine habitat, sufficient foraging substrate can be provided on 8O to 125 acres. Roosting cavities are excavated in living pines, and usually in those which are infected with a fungus producing what is known as red-heart disease. The cavity tree ages range from 63 to 3OO plus years for longleaf, and 62 to 2OO plus years for loblolly and other pines. The aggregate of cavity trees is called a cluster and may include 1 to 2O or more cavity trees on 3 to 6O acres. The average cluster is about 1O acres. Completed cavities in active use have numerous, small resin wells which exude sap. The birds keep the sap flowing apparently as a cavity defense mechanism against rat snakes and possibly other predators. The territory for a group averages about 2OO acres, but observers have reported territories running from a low of around 6O acres, to an upper extreme of more than 6OO acres. The expanse of territories is related to both habitat suitability and population density. The red-cockaded woodpecker was described by Audubon as being abundant in 1839, but it received little study until around 197O, when investigations began to indicate that the species could be headed for extinction. The decline is attributed primarily to the reduction of pine forest with trees 8O years old and older and to the encroachment of hardwood midstory due to fire supression in clusters. Living pines in this age group, infected with red-heart disease, generally provide the specialized nesting sites which these woodpeckers require. The U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army are all working on comprehensive management and recovery guidelines for their respective federal properties (national forests, national wildlife refuges, and army installations) where the bird will be recovered. Additionally, the issues surrounding protection and management of red-cockaded woodpeckers on private lands are being addressed through a three-part private lands strategy which includes a procedural manual for private landowners, Statewide Habitat Conservation Plans, and Memorandums of Agreement with industrial forest landowners.Hide.