Arthropod prey of nestling red-cockaded woodpeckers in the upper coastal plain of South Carolina
Four nest cavities of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) were monitored with automatic cameras to determine the prey selected to feed nestlings. Twelve adults were photographed making nearly 3000 nest visits. Prey in 28 arthropod taxa were recognizable in 65% of the photographic slides. Wood roaches in the genus (Parcoblutta) made up 69.4% of the prey fed to nestlings. Other common prey items were wood borer larvae (Cerambycidae or Buprestidae, 5.4%), Lepidoptera larvae (4.5%), spiders (Araneae, 3.6%), and ants (Formicidae, 3.1%). Wood roaches were the only prey items consistently taken by all four groups of birds; they made up 63.3 to 81.6% of the prey observed. Other common prey generally were taken in large numbers only by a single group of woodpeckers. During the breeding season these woodpeckers utilize relatively few common arthropods to feed nestlings.