Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-Headed Woodpecker

A Red-headed Woodpecker is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Red-headed Woodpecker. We have also put together a list of fun Red-headed Woodpecker t-shirts, Red-headed Woodpecker bird patches, bird houses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers and other fun bird watching items.

About Red-headed Woodpeckers

The Red-headed Woodpecker can sometimes be considered as a small or medium-sized bird from the woodpecker family. They are from the temperate North America and breed in open grounds in southern Canada and the eastern regions of Central America. Their numbers have been decreasing over the years and the trend continues. The decline is attributed to the loss of nesting sites as well as competition for nesting with starlings.

Description and Identification

The adult Red-headed Woodpeckers are strikingly tri-coloured, with a black back and tail and a redhead and neck. The underparts of the birds are mainly white, and the wings are black with white secondary remiges. The adult male and female Woodpeckers are identical in plumage. The juvenile Woodpeckers have very similar markings; however, they have an all grey head. Red-bellied Woodpeckers have some bright red on the backs of their heads and necks. Red-headed Woodpeckers have a much deeper red covering their entire heads and necks and a different overall plumage pattern.

Red-headed Woodpecker Color Pattern

The birds are tri-colored. They have a black back and tail while their underparts are white. The dominant feature is the red head and neck. Both the male and female are identical in plumage.

Red-headed Woodpecker Size

Red-headed Woodpeckers are mid-sized birds but fairly small when compared to other types of birds in the woodpecker family. They span a length of 19-25cm from beak to tail while they have a wingspan of 42.5cm on average. They weigh between 56-97g.

Red Headed Woodpecker
Red Headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker Behavior

While bird watching, you could note the Red-headed Woodpecker flying around catching insects mid-air. Sometimes, they can be spotted on the ground feeding on insects. They nest in cavities of dead trees or utility poles.

Red-headed Woodpecker climb up tree trunks using their legs and often stay still for long periods. They have a fairly level flight and can be considered as strong fliers. During the breeding season, mates tend to play some hide and seek around dead tree stumps and utility poles. When they eventually mate, they stay together for several years.

What Red-headed Woodpecker Eat and Their Food

Red-headed Woodpeckers primarily feed on fruits, seeds, and insects, including beetles, cicadas, midges, honeybees, and grasshoppers. The Woodpeckers are considered as one of the most skilful flycatchers among the North American Woodpeckers. The birds also consume earthworms, nuts, berries, wild and cultivated fruits, and rarely small rodents. Red-headed Woodpeckers eat eggs, nestlings of other birds, and sometimes, even bark—the Woodpeckers cache food by wedging it into crevices in trees or under shingles on houses. The birds store live grasshoppers, beechnuts, acorns, cherries, and corn before retrieving and eating it during the colder months. 

The bird is the most omnivorous of the woodpecker family. Thy feed on insects, fruit, nuts and rarely on small rodents. They may also eat other birds’ eggs and their young.

Where Red-headed Woodpeckers Live and Their Habitat

Red-headed Woodpeckers breed in deciduous woodlands with beech or oak, groves of dead or dying trees, burned areas, river bottoms, recent clearings, orchards, beaver swamps, parks, farmlands, grasslands with scattered trees, forest edges, and roadsides. At the beginning of the breeding season, Red-headed Woodpeckers move from forest interiors to forest edges or disturbed areas. In the northern part of their winter range, the Woodpeckers live in mature stands of forest, especially oak, oak-hickory, maple, ash, and beech. In the southern part, these birds live in pine and pine-oak. The Woodpeckers are somewhat nomadic; they can be common one year and absent the next in a given location.

They can be found in groves, farmland, large spaced out trees and shade trees in urban areas. They can also be seen in forest edges and orchards.

Range and Migration

Red-headed Woodpeckers are small or medium-sized woodpeckers from temperate North America. They are widely distributed throughout most of North America. The Woodpeckers range east to west from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, and north to south from Lake Winnipeg (Manitoba) and southern Ontario to Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, and Florida. Red-headed Woodpeckers are irregular short-distance or partial migrants. They usually leave the northern and western parts of their range for winter. During the winter season, the Woodpeckers wander widely in loose flocks, moving during daytime in the fall and night time in the spring. The birds migrate by day and are not known to occur south of the United States. 


The male Woodpeckers choose a site for the nest, and the female Woodpeckers approve the site. Red-headed Woodpeckers nest in dead trees or dead part of live trees, including pines, maples, birches, cottonwoods, and oaks; in fields or open forests with little vegetation on the ground. Together, male and female Woodpeckers build their nest. The Woodpeckers also excavate holes in utility poles, live branches, or buildings. Occasionally, Woodpeckers may also use natural cavities. Red-headed Woodpeckers often reuse a nest cavity several years in a row. The birds lay their eggs in early May and are incubated for two weeks. 

Red Red-headed Woodpecker Lifecycle

The Red-headed Woodpecker can live up to 10 years. The females lay 4-5 eggs and keep them incubated for 12-13 days when the hatchlings come along. The hatchlings leave the nest about 27-31 days after.


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.

  • Kids Bird Watching Monthly Subscription

    $20.00 / month
    Sign Up Now
  • Kid & Adult Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription

    $20.00 / month and a $72.00 sign-up fee
    Sign Up Now
  • Kids Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription

    $20.00 / month and a $19.00 sign-up fee
    Sign Up Now

Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Red-headed Woodpeckers

The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Red-headed Woodpecker 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.

  • Birding Binoculars

    Birding Binoculars

    Add to cart
  • Kids Binocular 8x21

    Kids Binoculars

    Add to cart

Red-headed Woodpecker T-shirts

If you love the Red-headed 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-headed 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 an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.

The Red-headed 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.

  • Bird Banner with iron on patches

    Bird Banner

    Add to cart
  • Bird Watching iron on patch

    Bird Watching Academy and Camp Original Bird Badge

    Add to cart

Red Headed Woodpecker Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Red Headed 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 Headed Woodpecker

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-headed Woodpecker

There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.

Please Share to Help Us Get Kids Bird Watching