Mar 10, 2017

Red Headed Woodpecker

Melanerpes erythrocephalus

With its bright red head, snow white body, black back, and half black and half white wings, it is quite easy to see how this bird got its name. They are a medium-sized woodpecker, about the size of a robin. They are found in open woodlands and pine savannahs, usually around dead or dying trees.

They are one of only four North American woodpeckers known to store food, and the only one that covers the food with bark or wood chips after being stored. They feed in the usual woodpecker way by chiseling insects out of wood with their spike like bill, but they are also very good at catching insects out of mid-air. They also eat a lot of fruit, nuts and seeds.

Males and females look alike and juveniles look similar except their head is dark gray or brown. They have 1 to 2 broods per year and lay 3 to 10 pure white eggs, which will hatch in about 2 weeks. The chicks will fledge in about a month.

During breeding season, they are very territorial and will even drive other birds out of their territory. They will occasionally come to a bird feeder and can be attracted with suet. However, you won’t see them too much in the winter months as most red headed woodpeckers migrate out of the Badger State in winter.