This is a photo of a "Wildlife Technician". Until last week, I had no idea there was such a career position as "Wildlife Technician", but thanks to a workshop I was able to attend as part of my training for being a Master Naturalist ( www.home.ArkansasMasterNaturalists.org ), I learned that a person who enjoys working in the outdoors, and has either an associate degree or bachelor's degree in Wildlife Management, can be paid to spend time outdoors climbing trees! According to various Internet job posting websites, the pay can range from $30,000-$35,000. I would suggest if you take such a job that you also like solitude, because the site where the man in the photo worked was VERY remote, and about as deep in the back woods as one can go.
One reason that his location in Oklahoma is so remote is because he is in charge of protecting the habitat of the (rarely visible) Red Cockaded Woodpecker (RCW). The RCW is on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species List, and you can read more details about the bird on their website at www.fws.gov . The wildlife technician is holding up one of the birdhouses that have been designed to serve as a "refuge" for the RCW, and so I am using this image as the visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verses that says, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1 . The RCW is the only woodpecker that uses exclusively LIVE trees to excavate their nesting cavity. An additional criteria is that the cavity be in a mature pine over 80 years old. With such narrow criteria, it is easy to understand why their habitat is shrinking due to urban development, agriculture, timbering, and hunting. The Wildlife Technician is in charge of caring for a "cluster" of cavity trees that usually takes up about 10 acres.
Our group got to see the technician climb this very old and tall pine tree in a matter of minutes---without any assistance from anyone---to demonstrate how he climbs up to various nests he is monitoring, to see how many eggs are in the nest, and make sure that predators such as rat snakes have not eaten the eggs or fledglings. By the way, the ladder does not stay on the tree all the time. He carries the various sections of the ladder on his climbing harness, and assembles them as he goes higher and higher up the tree.
This is a photo of one of "his" RCW that he showed us. The actual birds are about the size of a cardinal (7" long), with a 15" wingspan. The male has a small red streak on each side of its black cap, called a cockade. (A cockade was a word that came into use in the 1800's to refer to a ribbon or other ornament worn on a hat.) The female RCW does not have the red streak. One reason the RCW is considered so important is because it is classified as a "keystone" species because their cavities are used by other animals---27 other species, to be exact! The RCW are the primary cavity nesters--meaning they build the cavity, which allows for "secondary" users. I think I detect a tiny little smile on this bird, and I know learning this new fact about nature gave me MILES OF SMILES! Tricia