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Meet Red Bellied Woodpecker



The Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) is one of the most charismatic woodpeckers in the Midwest With its distinctive appearance, this woodland inhabitant brings vibrancy to our forests and piques the interest of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.


Contrary to its name, the Red-bellied Woodpecker sports a striking red cap on its head, while its belly, though tinted with a blush of pale red, often remains less noticeable. The striking zebra-like pattern on its back, coupled with a black-and-white barred pattern on its wings, makes it a visually appealing sight in wooded habitats.


Red-bellied Woodpeckers favor a variety of wooded environments, including mixed woodlands, open forests, parks, and suburban areas across eastern North America. Their range spans from the Great Plains to the eastern coast, thriving in habitats with a mix of deciduous trees and deadwood, which provide ample foraging and nesting opportunities. Our local pair favor a dead standing oak and have built their nest in a snag way up high.


These woodpeckers possess a diverse diet, predominantly comprising insects such as beetles, ants, caterpillars, and spiders. Additionally, they feed on fruits, seeds, and nuts, displaying versatile foraging habits. Their adeptness at clinging to tree trunks and branches while probing for insects beneath the bark is mesmerizing to watch.


During breeding season, usually from April to June, Red-bellied Woodpeckers excavate cavities in trees, often selecting both living and dead trees for nesting. They construct nest cavities using their strong bills, and both male and female participate in the excavation process. After laying eggs in the cavity, they nurture and raise their young until they fledge.


Tips for Spotting Red-Bellied Woodpeckers

  • Listen for Vocalizations: Their rolling 'churr' calls and drumming sounds can guide you to their presence.

  • Watch Tree Trunks: Look for their distinctive climbing patterns and probing behavior on tree bark.

  • Explore Wooded Areas: Venture into mixed woodlands and parks with mature trees, offering suitable habitats for these woodpeckers.


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