By Laura Poppick, Staff Writer | October 14, 2013 07:26am ET
Invasive American minks may threaten the largest woodpecker species in South America, according to new research.
The Magellanic woodpecker — a relative of the extinct ivory-billed woodpecker — lives throughout the Andes of Chile and Argentina. The large birds only produce one offspring per year and maintain broad territorial boundaries of about 1 square kilometer (0.4 square miles) per male-female pair, limiting the density and growth of their population.
Still, the charismatic birds maintain stable populations by holing up in branchless, dead trees that carnivores struggle to climb. Until now, there have been no records of predation on the birds.