Red-headed WoodpeckerMelanerpes erythrocephalus

Rob Curtis/VIREO
Arthur Morris/VIREO
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
Brian E. Small/VIREO
immature (1st winter)
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
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. Immature resembles adult, but has brown head, 2 dark bars on white wing patch.


A loud churr-churr and yarrow-yarrow-yarrow.


drums & querr calls
querr calls, drum, & flight churr
querr calls & drums
rattle calls


Open country, farms, rural roads, open park-like woodlands, and golf courses.


Breeds from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec south to Florida and Gulf Coast. Scarce in northeastern states. Winters in southern part of breeding range.


These woodpeckers are fond of open agricultural country with groves of dead and dying trees, particularly orchards. They often fly-catch, swooping low across a highway or along the shoulder of a road after flying insects. They store nuts and acorns, hiding them in holes and crevices. Red-headed Woodpeckers frequently are driven off by aggressive European Starlings, which occupy their nest holes, and by the removal of dead trees.


5 white eggs placed without nest lining in a cavity in a tree, telephone pole, or fence post.

Similar Species

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

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

8 1/2" (22 cm). A furtive woodpecker mottled with off-white and black; male has red crown and throat; female has only red crown. Both sexes dull yellowish below. Immatures dull brown.

adult male

Red-bellied Woodpecker

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.

adult male

Acorn Woodpecker

8-9 1/2" (20-24 cm). Male has yellowish-white forecrown; red crown; light eyes; black nape, back, wings, and tail.


Lewis's Woodpecker

10 1/2 -11 1/2" (27-29 cm). Smaller than a flicker. Metallic greenish black above; gray collar and breast; pinkish-red belly; dark red face framed with greenish black. Sexes alike.


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