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Red-headed Woodpecker Melanerpes erythrocephalus


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Red-headed Woodpecker
credit: colleen/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Picidae, Woodpeckers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has mainly black back, tail, and upper wings, with white patch on tertials and rump. Head and neck are bright red and are separated from white underparts by narrow black border. Has a dark eye and rather pale gray and darker tipped bill. JUVENILE Has red and black elements of adult's plumage replaced by brown. Underparts are whitish with dark streaks, and pale tertials have brown barring.

Dimensions Length: 10 in (25 cm)

Habitat Common, mainly resident in eastern North America, but its range also extends west and north in summer, where present mainly May-Sep. Favors a range of lightly wooded habitats, including orchards.

Observation Tips Easy to recognize in flight but can be surprisingly hard to find when feeding unobtrusively. Sometimes visits feeders in winter.

Range Southeast, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, Western Canada, New England, Great Lakes, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Eastern Canada, Plains, Florida

Voice Call is a harsh quee-erk.

Discussion Extremely well-marked and distinctive woodpecker, recognized in flight from above by its white rump and wing patches that contrast with otherwise black upper wings and tail. White on underwing is also striking in flight. Nests unobtrusively in excavated holes, mainly in dead trees. Drumming is rapid. Feeds on insects, seeds, and fruits, typically in trees, but will also feed on ground and "fly-catch" on the wing. Sexes are similar.