Conservation status

Seventeen woodpecker and five piculet species or subspecies were included on the 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The ivory-billed (Campephilus principalis), imperial (Campephilus imperialis), and the Okinawa woodpecker (Sapheopipo noguchii) are Critically Endangered by loss of old-growth forest. The red-cockaded, Arabian (Dendroco-pos dorae), helmeted (Dryocopus galeatus), and Sulu (Picoides ramsayi) woodpeckers are all classified as Vulnerable as a re sult of habitat losses. The red-cockaded is classified as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Ten other woodpecker species are listed by IUCN in their Lower Risk category. The tawny (Picumnus fulvescens), ochraceous (Picum-nus limae), and speckle-chested (Picumnus steindachneri) piculets are all listed as Vulnerable, and the rusty-necked (Picumnus fuscus) and mottled (Picumnus nebulosus) piculets are included as Lower Risk.

The greatest threat to picids is habitat destruction and modification. Clearing of forests for non-forest uses reduces and fragments populations and allows invasion of forest-edge species that compete with woodpeckers for cavities or that prey on woodpeckers. Clearcutting followed by harvesting of trees before they reach natural maturity reduces habitat quality, availability of nest sites, and abundance, diversity, and stability of food supplies. All endangered and threatened woodpecker species are suffering impacts of habitat losses. Introduction of exotic secondary cavity-nesting species, such as the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris), has increased competition for woodpecker cavities and contributed to population declines and possibly shifts in woodpecker nesting phenology that further upset woodpecker roles within ecosystems. For example, starling competition with early-nesting red-bellied woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) seems to have resulted in later renesting of that species, placing it in greater competition with the later nesting red-headed woodpeckers.

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