Photo Credit: Bill Horn
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Melanerpes erythrocephalus
DESCRIPTION: The red-headed woodpecker (melanerpes erythrocephalus) is the only eastern woodpecker with an entirely red head. It has a solid black back, white rump and large white patches on the wings, making the lower back appear white when the bird is at rest. Immature birds appear to have a dusky colored head. Its voice is a loud queer or queeah sound.
DISTRIBUTION: It inhabits areas east of the Rocky Mountains from southern
HABITAT: The red-headed woodpecker is found in a number of habitat types including: wooded savannas, open woodlands, riparian forests, orchards, suburbia and agricultural lands. Preferred habitat includes dead trees for nest sites, relatively open undergrowth, and access to the ground for foraging.
FEEDING HABITS: Unlike other woodpeckers, Melanerpes erythrocephalus rarely excavates holes for insects. They mostly use the fly and catch technique to capture insects from the air or sometimes they spot prey from a branch and fly down to capture it. The majority of their diet consists of nuts, fruits and cultivated crops such as acorns, beech nuts and corn. Nuts and acorns are stored in cracks and crevices in trees. The remaining portion of their diet includes animal prey such as beetles, ants, grasshoppers, mice, eggs and young birds.
Peterson, R.T. 1980. Peterson Field Guide (Eastern Birds). Houghton Mifflin Company,
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. 2000.
AUTHOR: Adam Pritchett, Wildlife Biologist, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries