Red-Headed Woodpecker

Interesting Red-Headed Woodpecker Facts (Explained)

Red-headed woodpeckers are a beautiful bird with some unique qualities. This article will explore some facts about the red-headed woodpecker that you may not know.


The red-headed woodpecker is one of the most common and easiest to identify North American woodpeckers. Red-headed woodpeckers are medium-sized birds, usually less than 8-10″ inches in length.

They have a wingspan of about 13-14.5″ inches and weigh between 2.5 and 3 ounces. They are easily recognized by their deep, crimson red head, black back, big white wing patches and a white belly.


The red-headed woodpecker is a bird that lives in the Eastern United States, but it can be found throughout all of North America and Central America, as well as Southern Canada.


The red-headed woodpecker has a strong preference for deciduous trees with plenty of crevices to make nests out of; however they will also inhabit pine or mixed coniferous forests where their prey is abundant.

I have also seen them nesting in suburban areas with mature trees, particularly if they are close to wooded wetlands or other natural sources of food.

The red-head woodpeckers are generally found in trees with thick, succulent bark, such as that found mainly in oak, maple, birch, and chestnut.

Food Sources

The diet of the red-headed woodpecker varies from season to season. During winter months they eat acorns, nuts and seeds while during summer months they eat insects such as beetles, bees, wasps and ants.

They have been seen eating nectar from a flower called ‘Lemon Balm’, which is highly nutritious. The woodpeckers feed on the fruits and nectar to produce food for their young ones. The female woodpeckers are also known to build nests on nearby trees where they rear their chicks.


The red-headed woodpecker is a migratory bird that travels to North America in the winter and Central America in the summer. The length of migration is around 1,600 miles and they travel back and forth twice each year.

The journey usually takes them between 12-16 days with an average of 16 hours per day spent flying. They have been spotted migrating from March through October but most migrate during April, May, June, July or August.


The bird generally makes its nest in hollowed out trees or in the bark of shrubs. They prefer trees made from cedar, pine, or oak. They have a propensity to build their houses high up into the tree. Their roosting areas are also different depending on the area they occupy.

Sometimes these areas are found under eaves, but at other times they roost in tall pines and birch. While it is a rare, there is a few cases where this bird nests in buildings.

The females of this species tend to lay eggs April to July and the number of eggs is usually 3 to 10 per year. Their young will then be fledged into flight before reaching adulthood.

Call and Songs

The bird uses a variety of songs, sounds, and actions to communicate with its mates. It is quite vocal in its communication. When males call and sing in a group to attract females, it is known as a song.

During mating season, the females will respond in kind to these male songs, sometimes calling and singing as much as fifty times per hour.

Very Social

Red-headed woodpeckers are very social species. They tend to congregate around other birds, especially in the evening and will feed them. They will even sit on a perch and call and sing to each other.

In addition to feeding each other, they may also gather in pairs and fly off to various areas in search of nectar, seeds. These wild birds are usually shy of human beings. But they tend to get along with other types of birds.


The red-headed woodpecker is vulnerable to attack from predators. Some of the predators are hawks, falcons, owls, fox, snakes, squirrels and raccoons.

Attracting them to your yard 

Here are 10 ways you can attract woodpeckers to your yard and make them feel at home:

1) Plant a variety of fruit trees with peaches, apples, pears, cherries or figs.

2) Provide water for birds in a birdbath or pond.

3) Place suet feeders in trees near where you spend time outside.

4) Install nest boxes – Installing a nest box is one of the easiest ways to help attract woodpeckers. Here’s a great one on Amazon specifically made for the red-headed woodpecker.

5) A good way is to get a bird feeder or a platform feeder with plenty of perching space. You can feed them apples, cracked corn, grapes, berries, and raisins. You can get them both on Amazon.

6) Fill up bird feeders with sunflower seeds or put up a suet feeder with some suet cakes that woodpeckers love.

7) Plant trees and shrubs that provide food, shelter, and homes for woodpeckers.

8) Leave standing dead trees in your yard to serve as a source of bugs for the birds to eat .

9) Put up birdhouses near wooded areas on the outskirts of your property .

10) Don’t put out any pesticides – these chemicals can kill all sorts of insects, including some that are good sources of food for

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Red-headed Woodpecker rare?

Red-headed woodpeckers are seen throughout the United States, and so they may not be considered as rare. However, these birds have been listed as endangered in many states due to their population numbers declining. Some states only have 1% of the original population of red-headed woodpeckers remaining today because these birds’ natural habitats are being destroyed by humans

How long do Red-headed Woodpeckers live?

Red-headed woodpeckers have been found to live as long as 10 years in the wild!

Are Red-headed Woodpeckers monogamous?

Red-headed woodpeckers are often characterized as being monogamous, but research has found that this may not be the case. The study observed the mating habits of red-headed woodpeckers, and found that they mate with multiple partners throughout their lifetimes.

Do Red-headed Woodpeckers eat sunflower seeds?

Red-headed woodpeckers have been observed pecking and eating from black oil sunflower seed feeders. These birds also eat peanuts, other types of nuts, as well as fruits and berries that fall from trees during feeding periods.

Why are Red-headed Woodpeckers important?

These birds have an important role in nature because they destroy the nests of many harmful insects like the tent caterpillar and bark beetle, preventing these pests from harming other animals or plants. Red-headed woodpeckers also control cockroaches by eating them for food!