We noticed a truck go by the house after hours and wondered how they got in passed the locked gate. As they came back passed the house Michael chatted with them and found out that they were contractors with the forestry service and that about 6:30 they were going to come back by on their way to capture and endangered woodpecker. They invited us to follow them and watch the process!
I had dinner in the oven (White Chicken Enchiladas) and after we finished eating and cleaning up afterwards we got ready to dive into the wild and see our very first endangered species capture! We donned long pants, socks & shoes and I got my trusty camera ready.
We were ready by the appointed time of 6:30 pm but no one showed up. Michael was working outside but when 7:00 pm rolled around he put things away and came inside thinking that we got stood up. About 7:15 there was a knock at the door and we were invited to follow along. (I think they’d been off capturing another woodpecker)
The biologist, Sara, gave us instructions to stay by the vehicles while she and her team (a young woman and a guy) went to the tree (about 100 feet away) where the woodpecker had made its home. They used a net on a pole about 25 feet long and put it in front of the hole on the tree and then banged loudly on the tree to encourage the bird to come out and into the net.
We were instructed to come over to the base of the tree once they started banging on the tree. Me and my chicken self blew caution to the wind and ran through the tall grass not thinking of snakes, spiders and any other creepy things. Mind you it was dusk at this time and I could have done a face plant into a HUGE spider web….
The bird wasn’t having any of it and refused to come out of her nest. Sara ended up having to don some climbing gear and stood an aluminum ladder up alongside the tree so that she could get closer to the hole and encourage the bird a little more. While she climbed her assistants continue to hold the net over the hole.
She was barely to the top of the ladder when the bird flew into the net with little or no coaxing. Sara tied the top of the net closed so as not to lose the bird and then the net was gently lowered toward the ground.
Once Sara was back down on the ground she took the bird out of the net and examined it…filling out a log sheet with all the pertinent information regarding the bird. When the log was completed she placed the bird in a small box so that it can be transported to south Florida and be introduced to a new home and a boy bird. 😉
Sara has been following the Red Cockaded Woodpeckers in this area for quite a while. This team was one of 9 that are capturing the birds
in the Osceola National Forest tonight. Sara said that she tags about 200 birds a year and then recaptures about 20 of those later on and then relocates them to other parts of the state in an effort to help them flourish.
Sara was very patient and informative explaining the whole process, what we needed to do and all the facts about the woodpecker. I even found out that she has an office at the ranger station that I’ll be working at once this dumb shutdown is over. So I’m hoping that I’ll run into her in the future….you never know….maybe we’ll be able to see some other wildlife!
This experience made up for the whole time we’ve been displaced from the Ocean Pond Campground due to the government shutdown. Wow!
PS. Now that we’re back home and I’m thinking again…I swear I can feel all kinds of little creepy crawlies crawling all over me! AND I probably have a bunch more bug bites….but it was SO worth it!