Red-bellied Woodpecker
Melanerpes carolinus
Family Picidae

Recognizable by its bright red head markings, the red-bellied woodpecker often arrives at feeders to take nuts, especially in wintertime.

Identifying Traits (male):

  • Back “zebra-patterned” with alternating bars of black and white
  • Underparts off-white to buffy brown
  • Vibrant red nape and cap
  • Occasionally, dull rosy wash on underparts is visible
  • Clear white rump
  • Short, stiff tail with black chevrons higher up, entirely black for most of lower length past rump
  • Short, straight black bill
  • Juvenile:  lacks red on head; head normally a dull brown
  • Size: 24 cm (9”)
  • Weight: 75 g (2.6 oz)

 

Identifying Traits (female):

  • Back “zebra-patterned” with alternating bars of black and white
  • Underparts off-white to buffy brown
  • Vibrant red nape, but cap pale grey
  • Occasionally, dull rosy wash on underparts is visible
  • Clear white rump
  • Short, stiff tail with black chevrons higher up, entirely black for most of lower length past rump
  • Short, straight black bill
 
 
  Adult male    
       

Voice: The red-bellied woodpecker’s call is a curious, rolling querr? or quir?  Its song is a squeaky series of double notes: chiv-a, chiv-a, chiv-a.

Habitat: Red-bellied woodpeckers will live anywhere there are trees, such as groves and woodlands.  Not surprisingly, they have also adapted well to suburban living.

Range: The red-bellied woodpecker is a year-round resident of the eastern United States as far north as New Hampshire, Vermont, and northern New York.

Interesting Facts: The red-bellied woodpecker often creates “caches” of food by drumming rows upon rows of small holes and wedging a single nut or seed into each one.

 
 

"Red-bellied Woodpecker: © Dan L." Dan L. Perlman/EcoLibrary.org

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