Red-headed Woodpecker

Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
Genus: Melanerpes
Species: erythrocephalus

Red-headed Woodpecker, R.Bruce Horsfal,  A Year with the Birds, Alice Ball, 1916
R. Bruce Horsfall
Gr. pikos woodpecker
La. picus woodpecker
Gr. Circe, mythological
   daughter of Helios,
   changed Picus, son of
   Saturn, into a woodpecker
La. forma form, shape, kind
Gr. melas black
Gr. herpes a creeper
Gr. eruthros red
Gr. kephale head
Gr. -kephalos headed

Nine to ten inches long. Crimson-red head, neck and upper breast. White lower breast and under side. Black back, upper wings, and tail. Broad white band on lower wings. Colors distinctly separate and contrasting.

Inhabits forests, groves, and small stands, sometimes solitary trees in the open prairies and farms throughout most of the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains and southern Canada.


      USGS Red-headed Woodpecker Map


Nests in self-excavated cavities in partially decayed trees or telephone poles, in open sheds and bird houses.

Lays four to six, more or less, white eggs on soft wood chips at the bottom of its cavity. Eggs hatch after about two weeks of incubation and young leave the nest in another four weeks.


Red-headed Woodpecker, Edmund J. Sawyer, Educational Bird Leaflets, 1913


Searches trees for insects. Perches on fence posts in wait for passing insects to eat, which it will catch in flight like flycatchers.

Stores acorns, beech nuts and grasshoppers wedged in bark crevices, tree cavities, fence post cracks, in barns, between wood roof shingles and various other nooks and crannies. Also feeds on berries.


The Red-headed Woodpecker nest box (same as for the Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Hawk Owl) has a 6" by 6" floor, 14" inside ceiling, 2" diameter entrance hole located 11" above the floor and ventilation openings. Hinged roof is secured with shutter hooks.

Mount out of reach on a tree on a woodland edge or clearing. Leave a bed of chips in the house.

Nestbox for Red-headed Woodpecker, Golden-fronted Woodpecker & Hawk Owl
Red-headed Woodpecker
Printable Birdhouse Plans



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