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Big woodpeckers trash others' homes

Woodpecker biologist Daniel Saenz now has the data to show that frustrated scientists aren't imagining things. Pileated woodpeckers really are attracted to the homes of red-cockaded woodpeckers.

Saenz of the Wildlife Habitat Laboratory in Nacogdoches, Texas, frets over the cavities that the small, endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers peck out of healthy pine trees. The 8-inch-long birds routinely spend 6 years excavating before a cavity reaches the right size. A finished cavity houses a single bird.

The pileated woodpeckers, like most of the clan, usually whack their cavities out of dead trees in which a fungus has already softened the wood.

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