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Predation of a Cavity Kleptoparasite by an Eastern Rat Snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) at an Active Nest Cavity of a Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Dryobates borealis)

Andy Van Lanen*

*Sandhills Ecological Institute, 515 Midland Road, Southern Pines, NC 28387.

Southeastern Naturalist,Volume 20, Issue 2 (2021): N69–N72

I report a case of predation by Pantherophis alleghaniensis (Eastern Rat Snake) on an adult Melanerpes erythrocephalus (Red-headed Woodpecker) at an active nest cavity of a Dryobates borealis (Red-cockaded Woodpecker [RCW]) in the North Carolina Sandhills. The first RCW nest in this cavity failed during the nestling stage, either from the activities of the snake or the Red-headed Woodpecker. I believe this is the first documentation of a predation event of a kleptoparasite at an active nest cavity of a RCW by a rat snake. The resident RCWs re-nested successfully in the same cavity, illustrating the complex species interactions among rat snakes, cavity kleptoparasites, and RCWs in the Pinus palustris (Longleaf Pine) ecosystem.

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