Red-headed Woodpecker

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Melanerpes erythrocephalus

Red-headed Woodpecker

The Red-headed Woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker, with a fairly large, rounded head, short, stiff tails and powerful, spike-like bill.

Both sexes measure about 7.5 - 9.1 inches in length, with a wingspan of 16.5 inches and weigh about 56 - 91 grams.

Adults have bright red head, neck and throat. Underparts are white. Back is bluish-black. They have a large white patch on the wings, and rump is white.

Tail is black, with white outer feathers. Bill is blue gray. Eyes are dark brown. Legs and feet are bluish-gray, with zygodactylous feet.

Both sexes are similar, but the males are slightly larger than the females.

Juveniles are brownish. They have a gray head and two black wing bars on white secondary’s feathers. Immature birds show some red tinge on head.

In breeding season, it utters a loud “queark”. Common call is guttural rattle “churr-churr”. Alarm call at nest is “krit-tar-rah” or “quarr- quarr-quarr”. Drumming lasts one second and it is repeated two or three times.

Feeds on seeds, acorns and beech nuts, sap, corn, insects, bird eggs and nestlings, adult birds and mice.

Found in open deciduous woodlands, orchards, parks, agricultural areas, grasslands, forest edges, burned forests.

Habitat is similar in breeding and wintering range.

Ranges east to west from Rocky Mountains to Atlantic Ocean, and north to south from Manitoba and southern Ontario, to Texas, Gulf of Mexico and Florida.

Nest is located in a tree cavity or a hole in dead stub of a live tree. It may be a natural cavity, or excavated by both adults.

Both partners help build the nest, though the male does most of the excavation. He often starts with a crack in the wood, digging out a gourd-shaped cavity.

The female lays 4 - 5 white eggs. Incubation lasts about 12 - 13 days, by both parents, male at night.



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