A Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. We have also put together a list of fun Red-cockaded Woodpecker t-shirts, Red-cockaded Woodpecker bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Red-cockaded Woodpeckers
The Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a non-migrating and territorial woodpecker. This bird species was named after the red patch on his head which resembles a cockade. They are not easily seen but can be observed in the early morning and sunset as they are foraging. The best time to get a glimpse of them is during the breeding season which is between the months of April and July.
Description and Identification
These birds are medium-sized woodpeckers that range from 7 – 9 inches in size, with a
wingspan of 14 – 16 inches. They are black barred with white horizontal stripes. These
woodpeckers’ most distinguishing features are their black cap and nape, visually seeming to
enlarge the white cheek patches. Males have a red stripe at the sides of the cap that are
only visible during breeding season or territorial defense.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker Size
- Length: the birds have an average length of 7 to 9 inches.
- Weight: a fully matured woodpecker weighs an average of 40 to 54 grams
- Wingspan: this bird species has an average wingspan of 13 to 16 inches
Red-cockaded Woodpecker Appearance
The plumage is black and white, except for the red cockade. The cockade is difficult to see from a distance. The back is black and filled with white, horizontal stripes. The cap and nape are black, and broad white feathers cover the cheek. Its ventral plumage is white and the sides of the breast area display visible black spots. The tail is black and barred with white spots. White stripes adorn the black wing coverts and flight feathers.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker Feeding
They are primarily insectivorous, flaking off the bark of trees and feeding on woodboring
insects like ants, termites, beetles, and others like cockroaches and spiders. Also
occasionally forage for fruits or berries. These birds prefer to feed in the Pine woodlands but
will travel short distances to nearby cornfields where they find worms or in the hardwoods.
These birds usually forage for insects, arthropods, and berries. Sometimes a pair will forage together during the courtship period.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker Habitat
Red-cockaded woodpeckers are generally found in open pine woodlands or fire-dependent
pine savannas. Unlike most woodpeckers, they do not bore cavities into dead trees but do
so in the living trees of the pine family. Their most preferred species is the Long Leaf Pine.
Trees with fungal infections like Red Heart Rot start at the center of the trunk and allows the
wood to become soft for the birds to burrow into. The sap from the trees is purposely kept
flowing as defense from predators like rodents and snakes. And the burrows are thirty feet to
a hundred feet off the ground. The birds live in groups or clusters and migrate only short distances when habitat is
threatened, for mating, and foraging.
The Red-cockaded Woodpeckers dwell in mature, open-pine forests in the southern regions of the United States. The largest population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers can be found in the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida.
Range and Migration
Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are historically endemic to the South-eastern United States.
They originally extended from Florida to New Jersey and Maryland, to as far west as East
Texas and Oklahoma. Today, there are estimated to be around 5,000 groups of 12,500 birds
fragmented through Florida, Virginia, and Southeast Oklahoma.
This species is nonmigratory and are residents of their habitats. They are considered to be
Near Threatened by the IUCN, its most common threats being competition with the Pileated
Woodpeckers and gradual loss of their habitats.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker Life and Behavior
It is not uncommon for pairs of this species of woodpeckers to remain together for more than one nesting season. The nest is built by both sexes 8 meters from the ground in the cavities of mature columnar trees. The female lays an average of 5 to 7 white eggs each season. Both the male and female incubate the eggs for about two weeks. The young ones are looked after by both parents and leave the nest a month after hatching.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker Nesting
These birds are territorial by nature, non-migratory, and have a cooperative breeding
structure. In a group, one pair mates and has four or five other “helpers”.
These helpers are mostly males, some from the female’s previous mating cycles.
The Females lay three or four eggs in the Male’s roost cavity. The nest sites are drilled by
the males roughly 30 – 100 feet above the ground, with the cavities themselves having a very
little inner lining. The incubation period for these eggs is 10 – 13 days, after which the
nestlings stay in the burrows for another 26 – 30 days. Fledglings may stick around with the parent birds even after gaining independence. However, the females leave their homes at a
young age in search of solo male groups to mate with and travel further distances, while
most males stay in the group or stay close to their previous groups.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Red-cockaded Woodpeckers
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker T-shirts
If you love the Red-cockaded Woodpecker you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.