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Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed woodpeckers eat the most insects of any woodpecker, sometimes caching grasshoppers alive in a tree crevice so they can be eaten later. Red-headed woodpeckers are also one of the few woodpeckers to store food for later and is the only one known to cover stored food with wood or bark. They may also store nuts and acorns in human structures, like in gate posts and under roof shingles.

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Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Naturalists in the 1800’s reported red-cockaded woodpeckers as very abundant throughout their range. Between 1970 and 2014, the red-cockaded woodpecker declined in numbers by 81% based on Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Count information.

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Hispid Pocket Mouse

Hispid pocket mice store seeds in burrows for consumption during the winter. Older animals tend to build more complex burrow systems than younger animals.

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Pinyon Jay

Pinyon jays have an excellent spatial memory, likely because they are dependent on pinyon pine seeds for winter survival and an early breeding season. They cache seeds in leaf/needle litter and tree crevices and can find them later in the season without any apparent clues to the human eye. An individual bird can store around 2,600 seeds in the fall, while a flock of 250 birds can store up to 4.5 million seeds! Pinyon jays can also carry up to 40 seeds at a time in their throat to help them cache more seeds for the winter.

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Mountain Plover

The mountain plover has an unusual mating strategy to increase hatching success of their young. The male builds two nests on the ground (see photo above), often incorporating bits of rocks or even cow pies. The female lays 3 eggs in each nest. The adults are likely not monogamous so there could be more than one father! Each adult incubates a nest to double the likelihood of success, this uniparental strategy is rare among shorebirds.

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Thick-billed Longspur

The ground nests are difficult for predators (and humans) to find because the female sits tightly on her nest until practically stepped upon, relying on her camouflage to avoid detection. Females also have a strong instinct to protect the eggs. One researcher who wanted to count eggs in the nest of a particularly protective mother had to first lift her off the nest because she refused to abandon her eggs even momentarily.

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Utah Prairie Dog

Utah prairie dogs reproduce more slowly than other rodents and have high mortality rates. Although females mate and produce litters in their first year, less than half of males mate in their first year. Females give birth to a single litter each year, averaging 3-5 young. However, fewer than 60% survive their first year and 30% survive their second year.

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White-tailed Prairie Dog

White-tailed prairie dogs prefer eating forbs over grasses. This behavior may increase the availability of forage grasses preferred by other species, including livestock.

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Lazuli Bunting

Birds can typically be identified by their song, but lazuli buntings make this a tad tricky. When young males arrive on their breeding grounds, they create their own unique song, which is a rearrangement of notes and syllables from other male lazuli buntings’ songs. They then sing their unique song every subsequent breeding season.

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Golden-cheeked Warbler

The golden-cheeked warbler is the only bird to breed in Texas exclusively. Males will return to the same nesting territory year after year and will often breed with the same partner in subsequent years.

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