A red-cockaded woodpecker group with two simultaneous nest trees
During a study of red cockaded woodpecker (P icoides borealis) nesting in eastern Texas, we discovered a single breeding pair of woodpeckers with two simultaneous nests in nest trees that were 24 m apart. Incubation of eggs in each nest tree was at least 13 d and may have been as long as 16 d. The breeding male incubated and fed a nestling in one nest tree, and the breeding female incubated and fed a nestling in the other nest tree until the nestlings were ?24 d old. Prior to fledging, both the breeding male and female were observed feeding both nestlings in both nest trees. The pair successfully fledged the two nestlings, a single fledging from each nest tree, during one nesting cycle. After the nestlings were fledged, both the male and female woodpeckers were observed feeding both fledglings about 350 m from the pair of nest trees. Our observations indicate that there are exceptions to the current theory that the contribution by the breeding male and female to incubation and feeding of nestlings is essential and that neither the male nor the female can normally rear young birds without the contribution of the other.
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