The Red-bellied Woodpecker
is an often noisy bird that has
adapted to living in residential areas and parks. Despite the name, it's
usually very difficult to see the reddish wash on the belly. The red
stripe on it's head is a much more obvious identification feature. The red on
the head extends all the way from the forehead to nape on males, while the
females only have red on the nape.
Habitat: Floodplain forests, woodlands,
groves, orchards, towns.
Diet: Omnivorous. Eats many insects, but plant material may make up half the
diet in some seasons.
Behavior: Foraging primarily occurs while climbing
on tree trunks and branches in search of insects. They will also fly
out from perches to catch insects in flight. During parts of the near,
seeds, nuts, and fruit can make up a significant portion of the diet.
They nest in cavities, often competing for the same nesting cavities as
non-native species such as the European
Nesting: May and June. The nest of a Red-bellied
Woodpecker is a cavity they themselves excavate in a tree, or sometimes in a
man-made object like a fence post or telephone pole. The female usually
lays 4 or 5 eggs, and both parents help to incubate them. When the eggs
hatch, both parents help to feed the young. The young fledge after 3 or 4
weeks, but typically remain near the parents for several weeks after fledging.
Migration: Not migratory,
although some wander in the fall, especially juveniles.
Similar Species: Distinctive in South Dakota.
Similar in appearance to
Golden-fronted Woodpecker, with some range overlap in Texas. Also
similar to Gila Woodpecker, found in the
Feeders: Nuts, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and
Conservation Status: Seems to be increasing and extending it's range
to the north. However, it has undoubtedly suffered in some areas due to
competition with European Starlings for nesting sites.
The IUCN currently
lists the Red-bellied Woodpecker as a species of "Least Concern".
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Red-bellied Woodpecker"
Photo Information: November 30th, 2007 - Big Sioux
Recreation Area near Brandon, South Dakota - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Red-bellied Woodpecker photos.