Red-bellied Woodpecker – Sound | Diet | Habitat | Facts | Size


The red-bellied woodpecker, scientific name Melanerpes carolinus is a medium-sized woodpecker of the family Picidae. It breeds primarily within the eastern United States, ranging as far south as Florida and as far north as Canada. In this article, I am going to talk about Red-bellied Woodpecker call, sound, diet, female, habitat, fun facts, size, etc.

Red-bellied Woodpecker profile

Its widespread name is considerably deceptive, as probably the most distinguished red a part of its plumage is on the pinnacle; the red-headed woodpecker, nevertheless, is one other species that may be a reasonably shut relative however appears fairly totally different.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are pale, medium-sized woodpeckers widespread in forests of the East. Their strikingly barred backs and gleaming red caps make them an unforgettable sight – simply resist the temptation to name them Red-headed Woodpeckers, a considerably rarer species that is principally black on the back with huge white wing patches. Learn the Red-bellied’s rolling name and also you’ll discover these birds in all places.

Geographic Range

Red-bellied woodpeckers are discovered within the eastern half of the United States. Their range extends east from the wooded portion of the Great Plain states to the Atlantic coast and from the Gulf of Mexico to southern parts of Ontario and northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and New York.

Physical Description

Red-bellied woodpeckers are medium-sized birds with a particular black-and-white patterned back and a long, chisel-shaped bill. Adults weigh about 72.5 grams (range 56 to 91 g) and are 22.9 to 26.7 cm long.

They have a wingspan of 38 to 46 cm. Males are about 8-9% bigger, on common than females. Two traits that distinguish red-bellied woodpeckers from woodpeckers native to North America are the black and white zebra sample on their backs, and the red belly present in a small part of the central area.

The face and stomach are an uninteresting grayish coloration. Male red-bellied woodpeckers have a brilliant red cap that covers from the brow to the nape of the neck.

Females have red solely on the napes of their necks. The legs and zygodactyl ft (two toes ahead, two toes back) are darkish greys, and the chisel formed bill is black.

Juvenile red-bellied woodpeckers are related in look to adults, however have a horn-colored bill and lack any red on their heads. Unlike many birds, red-bellied woodpeckers don’t present seasonal variation within the coloration.

Adults are primarily light grey on the face and underparts; they’ve black and white barred patterns on their back, wings, and tail. Adult males have a red cap going from the bill to the nape; females have a red patch on the nape and one other above the bill.

The reddish tinge on the stomach that offers the bird its name is troublesome to see in discipline identification. They are 22.85 to 26.7 cm (9.00 to 10.51 in) long, have a wingspan of 38 to 46 cm (15 to 18 in) and weigh from 2.0-3.2 oz (56-91 g).

Red-bellied Woodpecker Habitat

Red-bellied woodpeckers are adaptable to a wide range of forested habitats. Though they’re mostly related to mature hardwood forests, in addition, they thrive in blended pine-hardwood forests, mesic pine Flatwoods, closely timbered bottomlands, swampy woods, and riparian forests. They often stay beneath 600 m elevation, however will be discovered at as much as 900 m within the Appalachian mountains.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Vocalizations

Red-bellied woodpeckers are noisy birds and have many diverse calls. Calls have been described as sounding like churr-churr-churr or thrraa-thrraa-thrraa with an alternating br-r-r-r-t sound.

Males are inclined to name and drum more incessantly than females, however each sex’s name. The drum appears like 6 faucets. Often, these woodpeckers “drum” to draw mates.

They faucet on hole timber, and even on aluminum roofs, metal guttering, and transformer bins in city environments, to speak with potential companions.

Babies have a high-pitched begging name of pree-pree-pree. They will proceed to present a begging name every time they see their mother and father for some time after fledging.

These birds primarily get hold of arthropods on tree trunks. They may catch bugs in flight. They are omnivores, consuming bugs, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Their breeding habitat is often deciduous forests. They nest within the decayed cavities of useless timber, old stumps, or in stay timber which have softer wooden corresponding to elms, maples, or willows; each sex help in digging nesting cavities. Areas around nest websites are marked with drilling holes to warn others away.

Though the species just isn’t globally threatened, it relies on giant timber for nesting. In areas that might be extensively deforested, the birds will typically make the most of gardens, however for probably the most half they merely are not going to be current in any numbers.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker Behavior

Red-bellied woodpeckers are non-migratory, although northern populations do present some seasonal actions southward throughout chilly winters.

They are diurnal and solitary, besides throughout the breeding season once they consort with mates and offspring. Red-bellied woodpeckers defend a territory year spherical. The size of those territories varies with habitat high quality, however, estimates range from 0.016 to 0.16 sq. kilometers.

Walking, climbing, and hopping are all types of locomotion utilized by red-bellied woodpeckers. An attention-grabbing type of locomotion utilized by woodpeckers known as “hitching,” hopping upward alongside a vertical floor corresponding to a tree trunk interspersed with pauses to search for meals.

Red-bellied woodpeckers have been noticed enjoying when predators will not be round. They could fly spontaneously and dodge amongst timber and shrubs as if evading a predator.

Within-gender conflicts are common and often contain a chase and collisions in mid-air. Red-bellied woodpeckers exhibit many risk shows, for example, elevating their feathers on their neck and the crown of their head and spreading their wings and tail to look bigger to the threatening particular person. In the presence of predators, red-bellied woodpeckers sound alarm calls and retreat to close by timber or shrubs.

Communication and Perception

Red-bellied woodpeckers talk utilizing vocalizations, non-vocal sounds, and bodily display. This is a really vocal species all through the year, although they’re most noisy throughout the breeding season. Red-bellied woodpeckers use six calls to speak.

They additionally talk by drumming on useless timber, useless stubs, and utility poles with their beaks. Drumming is used to announce possession of a territory and in pair bond formation and upkeep.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Food Habits

Red-bellied woodpeckers are omnivorous. They eat all kinds of fruits, nuts, seeds, berries, and tree sap, in addition to arboreal arthropods and different invertebrates.

These embody ants, flies, grasshoppers, beetle larvae, and caterpillars. Red-bellied woodpeckers additionally take small vertebrates, together with brown and green anoles, tree frogs, small fish, nesting birds, and bird eggs.

Gleaning, probing, excavating, pecking, bark scaling, and hawking are all strategies utilized by red-bellied woodpeckers to forage for meals. Once captured, small meals are consumed by swallowing them completely.

Large prey is thrashed towards a tree and pecked at. An attention-grabbing feeding adaptation of red-bellied woodpeckers is their tongue. Their tongue is long, cylindrical, pointed, sticky, and has a spear-like tip. It is properly tailored for excavating prey from cracks.

Red-bellied woodpeckers forage totally on the trunks and limbs of timber and snags. Studies have proven that women and men forage in a different way. Males forage totally on trunks, whereas females forage totally on tree limbs. Females additionally forage greater on the timber than males.

Red-bellied woodpeckers are identified to retailer additional meals for later consumption. Food items corresponding to nuts, acorns, corn, fruits, seeds, and bugs are saved deep in pre-existing cracks and crevices of timber or posts.


Often seems pale overall, even the boldly black-and-white stripped back, with flashing red cap and nape. Look for white patches close to the wingtips as this bird flies.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Breeding

In early May, the red-bellied woodpeckers start breeding actions by drumming patterns; corresponding to, gradual faucets adopted by quick speedy drumming.

The red-bellied woodpeckers use vocal indicators to draw and talk with potential mates. A low “grr, grr” sound is noticed in a pair of woodpeckers from the beginning of courtship till the top of the breeding season. In an intraspecific battle, the red-bellied woodpeckers often make a loud “chee-wuck, chee-wuck, chee-wuck” sound.

As indicated by Kilham 1983, the red-bellied woodpecker drums with its bill throughout battle scenario and faucets to keep up pair bonding.

An instance of a battle occasion between red-bellied woodpeckers could be competing for a similar mate. Nevertheless, the red-bellied woodpeckers are identified to be in monogamous relationships.

They have been identified to quickly peck on aluminum gutters of homes to provide a loud noise in an effort to entice females.

Woodpeckers depend upon useless and drying wooden for nesting functions. The male red-bellied woodpecker takes the initiative in finding a nest gap.

He will then search for approval from his feminine mate by mutual tapping. The red-bellied woodpecker excavates holes in timber for nesting and roosting.

By excavating cavities, they play an essential function within the forest communities for different species as properly.

For instance, species corresponding to squirrels and bats use these cavities as shelter. The feminine red-bellied woodpecker accepts the nesting gap by finishing the excavation and getting into the nest gap.

Researchers have documented that red-bellied woodpeckers have the tendency to nest in clear areas with solely little timbers. Studies have indicated that shut cover areas don’t impression the bird’s nesting habits; nevertheless, additional research is wanted and is in progress.

Red-bellied woodpeckers are territorial throughout the nesting season and so they breed as soon as per year. A pair-breeding woodpecker begins nesting in April or May holding year-round territories and displaying excessive site constancy.

Red-bellied woodpeckers depend upon useless timber for nesting. Recent research has proven that these woodpeckers skilled low breeding resulting from chopping websites of useless timber; nevertheless, predators are nonetheless of essential concern.

The juvenile red-bellied woodpecker is able to fledge its nest at 24 to 26 days of age. Natal dispersal has been noticed on juvenile red-bellied woodpeckers.

The juvenile red-bellied woodpecker stays roughly 27 weeks in its natal space after fledging. In some circumstances, the woodpecker could return to its natal space for breeding relying on predation ranges and meal sources.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Food and feeding

As with all animals, foraging turns into an essential function in an animal’s capability to outlive and reproduce. The red-bellied woodpecker expresses foraging habits by catching or storing meals.

The woodpecker makes use of its bill for foraging as a chisel drilling into bark or probing cracks on the trunk of timber. In this fashion, the red-bellied woodpecker is ready to pull out beetles and different bugs from the tree with the assistance of its long tongue.

These habits can be seen for storing meals from different animals by hiding meals behind bark or deep in cracks of a tree. According to research from Williams 1975, Breitwisch 1977, and Batzil 1979, the red-bellied woodpecker spent 20% to 69% foraging on useless or decaying timber.

In addition, Williams 1975, Breitwisch 1977, and Batzil 1979 noticed red-bellied woodpecker 80% gleaning and probing and 10% excavating on timber in South Florida pine habitat. The red-bellied woodpecker depends on snags or dying timber for foraging and nesting.

The red-bellied woodpecker is a significant predator of the invasive emerald ash borer within the U.S. Midwest, eradicating as much as 85 % of borer larvae in a single infested ash tree.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Identification

Keep a watch out for this species in eastern woodlands all year spherical, notably at center heights and alongside essential branches and trunks of timber. It pays to be taught the bird’s calls, too: Red-bellied Woodpeckers are loud and name incessantly throughout spring and summer.


Predators of grownup red-bellied woodpeckers embody birds of prey corresponding to sharp-shinned hawks and Cooper’s hawks, black rat snakes, and home cats.

Known predators of nestlings and eggs embody red-headed woodpeckers, owls, pileated woodpeckers, grey rat snakes, and black rat snakes.

When approached by a predator, red-bellied woodpeckers both conceal from the predator or harass it with alarm calls. They defend their nests and younger aggressively, and should straight assault predators that come close to the nest.

Other Recommended Reading

Red-bellied Woodpecker Facts

  1. A Red-bellied Woodpecker can stick out its tongue almost 2 inches previous the top of its beak. The tip is barbed and the bird’s spit is sticky, making it simpler to grab prey from deep crevices. Males have longer, wider-tipped tongues than females, probably permitting a breeding pair to forage in barely totally different locations on their territory and maximize their use of obtainable meals.
  2. You could typically see Red-bellied Woodpeckers wedge giant nuts into bark crevices, then whack them into manageable items utilizing their beaks. They additionally use cracks in timber and fence posts to store food later within the year, a behavior it shares with different woodpeckers in its genus.
  3. For birds that nest in cavities, nest holes are valuable turf. Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been identified to take over the nests of different birds, together with a lot smaller (and endangered) Red-cockaded Woodpecker. But more typically they’re victims to the aggressive European Starling. As many as half of all Red-bellied Woodpecker nests in some areas get invaded by starlings.
  4. You could often see a Red-bellied Woodpecker flying rapidly and erratically via the forest, abruptly altering route, alighting for an on the spot, and instantly taking off once more, maintaining a fast chatter of calls. Scientists categorize these odd habits as a kind of play that in all probability helps younger birds observe the evasive motion they could in the future want.
  5. The oldest identified Red-bellied Woodpecker was a male in Georgia, and a minimum of 12 years, 3 months old when he was recognized within the wild by his band. Learn more about Lilian’s lovebirds.

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