Red-bellied WoodpeckerMelanerpes carolinus

adult male
Rob Curtis/VIREO
adult female
Brian E. Small/VIREO
juvenile
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult male
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult male
Philip D. Moylan/VIREO
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Family

Description

10" (25 cm). Barred black and white above; pale buff below and on face; sexes similar except that male has red crown and nape, female red nape only. Reddish patch on lower abdomen is seldom visible in the field.

Voice

Chuck-chuck-chuck, descending in pitch. Also a loud, often repeated churrrr.

Listen

drums
querr calls & drums
woika-woika (interaction call)
querr calls
chatter-chi
chi calls

Habitat

Open and swampy woodlands; comes into parks during migration and to feeders in winter.

Range

Breeds from South Dakota, Great Lakes, and southern New England south to Gulf Coast and Florida. Northernmost birds sometimes migrate south for winter.

Discussion

A common woodpecker over much of the South, the Red-bellied is scarcer farther north but has expanded its breeding range northward in recent decades. Like most woodpeckers, it is beneficial, consuming large numbers of wood-boring beetles as well as grasshoppers, ants, and other insect pests. It also feeds on acorns, beechnuts, and wild fruits. It is one of the woodpeckers that habitually stores food.

Nesting

4 or 5 white eggs in a tree cavity, often at edge of woodlands.

Similar Species

adult male

Gila Woodpecker

8-10" (20-25 cm). Barred with black and white above; buff below and on neck and head. Male has small red cap. Female and juvenile similar, but lack red cap. White wing patches are prominent in flight.

adult male

Nuttall's Woodpecker

7-7 1/2" (18-19 cm). Similar to Ladder-backed Woodpecker, but with black cheeks and wider black bars on back; black and white areas more sharply contrasting.

adult male

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

7" (18 cm). Barred black and white back; strong facial pattern forms triangle on buffy-white cheek. Male has red cap, female has black cap.

adult male Yellow-shafted

Northern Flicker

12" (30 cm). A large brownish woodpecker. Brown back with dark bars and spots; whitish or buff below with black spots; black crescent on breast; white rump, visible in flight.

adult, Northern

Red-breasted Sapsucker

8-9" (20-23 cm). Smaller than a flicker. A shy woodpecker with long white wing patch; barred back; white rump. In adults, entire head, throat, and breast bright red, belly yellow.

adult male

Gilded Flicker

12" (30 cm). A large brownish woodpecker. Brown back with dark bars and spots; whitish or buff below with black spots; black crescent on breast; white rump and yellow underwings visible in flight.

adult male

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

9 1/2" (24 cm). Barred with black and white above and buff below, like Red-bellied Woodpecker, but male has red restricted to cap; nape orange; forecrown yellow; female lacks red but has orange nape.

adult

Red-headed Woodpecker

10" (25 cm). Whole head red, wings and tail bluish black, with large white patch on each wing; white underparts; white rump, conspicuous in flight.

Vireo

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