Red-headeds Aplenty

by Carl Strang

As I bicycle the country roads in north-central Indiana’s Marshall County and adjacent portions of Starke and Fulton Counties, I enjoy observing the wild plants and animals along the way. One species that grabs my attention is the red-headed woodpecker (photo from Mayslake Forest Preserve, DuPage County, IL).

These woodpeckers are common in those rural Indiana areas, in contrast to northeastern Illinois where they are uncommon inhabitants of savannas. In recent years a pair has nested in my parents’ neighborhood in the town of Culver. Their surroundings have lost some trees in the decades since my childhood there.

This view toward Lake Maxinkuckee shows how open the area has become. Not only is the habitat structured more like a savanna, but people also take only a casual interest in tree grooming. This leaves dead branches and stems in trees like this one.

The red-headeds nested in one of those holes a couple years ago. I have not yet found their nest this year, but regularly hear them calling back and forth.

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