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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Amaze-wing Facts About The Red-bellied Woodpecker For Kids

Red-bellied Woodpecker facts about a monogamous bird.

Meet our medium-sized Woodpecker with black and white patterns on the back, and a blush of red on its belly and head. Due to the prominent color on the head, sometimes people have mistaken them as Red-headed woodpeckers, which belong to similar species. Their habitat includes forests and woodlands, and if you are living near that forest area, you can attract them using feeders filled with suet. When people saw these woodpeckers, they believed that the red on their heads symbolizes the stimulation and wakening of new mental faculties and new ways to look at things or new wisdom in general. They move around by walking and climbing up trees by vertically hopping upward using tails to support (called hitching). We can identify them knowing about the Red-bellied woodpecker call (drumming and tapping), but it's difficult to notice the red patch on its belly in the field visit.

Continue reading to know more interesting and exciting facts about the Red-bellied woodpecker, and you may also like our articles on the little penguin and short-eared owl.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a red-bellied woodpecker?

These woodpeckers are one of the species of North American birds that mainly live in forests and rarely in gardens by nesting in dead trees by making nest cavity using its long beak. These are the noisiest birds that make loud calls to communicate within their species. The Red-bellied Woodpecker tongue is very long, which helps them to pull out Beetles and other insects from trees for their survival.

What class of animal does a red-bellied woodpecker belong to?

The Red-bellied woodpecker, scientific name Melanerpes carolinus, belongs to the order Piciformes, family Picidae, and class Aves.

How many red-bellied woodpeckers are there in the world?

The North American Breeding Bird Survey estimates the global population of Red-bellied woodpeckers is 10 million, with 100% in the United States.

Where does a red-bellied woodpecker live?

The Red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) is entirely seen in Eastern United States' woodlands, covering Florida towards the South and Canada towards the North. They entirely belong to the United States of America, where they can be seen abundantly, but they are rarely seen outside the United States.

What is a red-bellied woodpecker's habitat?

Generally, the Red-bellied woodpecker habitat includes forests, preferably in decayed cavities of dead trees, can also live in trees with softer wood like elms, maples, or willows. They dig nest cavities with holes 22-32 cm deep and a cylindrical living space of roughly 9-113 cm. If the areas are highly deforested, they use gardens, backyards, and wood sidings of suburbs, but this rarely happens. They usually live 600m below elevations but up to 900 m in the Appalachian mountains.

Who do red-bellied woodpeckers live with?

The Red-bellied woodpecker lives with its mating partner for the whole season and may not appear with the same partner in the next season. These are also solitary except at the time of breeding and caring for chicks. The territory of Red-bellied woodpecker range from 0.016- 0.16 km.

How long does a red-bellied woodpecker live?

A Red-bellied woodpecker's lifespan is around 12 years, and the oldest recorded age is 12 years and three months.

How do they reproduce?

Red-bellied woodpeckers are monogamous birds which means a single mating partner for a season. Pairs form from late winter to early spring when the male Red-bellied woodpecker starts tapping and drumming to attract a partner and needs mutual tapping from partner to pair bonding. Males take the initiative in selecting the nest site, then they together start excavating, and the female accepts it by entering into the hole after excavation by tapping. Usually, nesting begins in March and April. Then the female lays about two to six eggs only once in a breeding season. Red-bellied woodpecker eggs are incubated by both parents, which hatch after 12 days. The chicks look naked with closed eyes; later, they develop Red-bellied woodpecker feathers. The male hatches eggs during nights and in the daytime too. Both parents feed their younger ones once after their hunt. The Red-bellied woodpecker fledgling occurs after 24-27 days and becomes independent after 10 weeks. After this period, they drive the young birds away, which may breed in the next season, and the brood size is one per year in the north and two to three in the south region.

What is their conservation status?

The Red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) conservation status is the Least concern as their number is increasing because of their adaptability to a wide variety of forests. They can also live in suburban environments. So these are not endangered as other species of woodpeckers.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Fun Facts

What do red-bellied woodpeckers look like?

Red-bellied woodpeckers are medium-sized birds with long chisel-shaped bills and are mainly light gray on the face and underparts, having black and white patterns on their back, wings, and tail. They have a red cap on their head, which distinguishes males and females on its bright shade and the exact place where it is, like on bill or nape. As the name defines, they have a red tinge on the belly, but it is challenging to identify when flying. The legs are zygodactyl feet (two toes pointed forward, two toes back) and are dark gray; the beak is in black color. The young Red-bellied woodpeckers are similar in appearance to adults except for any red on their heads and have a horn-colored bill.

Red-bellied woodpecker facts include that it has a blush of red on its belly.

How cute are they?

Red-bellied woodpeckers look adorable in zebra-like black and white patterns with a red crown on their head and a blush of rose on their lower belly.

How do they communicate?

Red-bellied woodpeckers communicate using vocalization as they are very vocal species throughout the year. They have a variety of calls to communicate. These calls include the sounds like 'churr-churr-churr' or 'thrraa-thrraa-thrraa' with an alternating 'br-r-r-r-t' sound and drum sounds like six taps. Compared to females, males make more frequent sounds. They do drumming to attract and communicate with a potential mate and announce ownership of territory by tapping their beak on trees, aluminum, metal guttering, and transformer boxes in an urban environment. They make a low 'grr-grr' sound from courtship to end of breeding. If they have any intraspecific conflict, they make loud 'chee-wuck chee-wuck' sounds and make noisy alarm calls when predators attack them. They use many antagonistic displays in defending territory by spreading wings and raising head feathers. Even young Red-bellied woodpeckers have a high-pitched continues begging call 'pree-pree-pree' when they see their parents after fledging.

How big is a red-bellied woodpecker?

The Red-bellied woodpecker size varies from 9-10.5 in (22.9-26.7 cm) long and a wingspan of 15-18.1 in (38-46 cm). Male Red-bellied woodpeckers look 8-9% larger than females.

How fast can a red-bellied woodpecker fly?

Red-bellied woodpeckers fly quickly and erratically through the forest, abruptly changing directions, alighting for instance, and taking off immediately by making chatter calls like escaping from predators, which helps the younger ones to learn how to escape if they are attacked. But the exact speed at which they fly is unknown.

How much does a red-bellied woodpecker weigh?

A Red-bellied woodpecker's weight varies from 2-3.2 oz (56-91 g), but the average weight of an adult is 2.6 oz (72 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

They don't have gender-specific names; we call them Red-bellied woodpecker male and Red-bellied woodpecker female. Their looks can help to distinguish them.

What would you call a baby red-bellied woodpecker?

A young Red-bellied woodpecker is called a juvenile Red-bellied woodpecker or a chick.

What do they eat?

Red-bellied woodpeckers are omnivore birds that eat a wide variety of berries, fruits, seeds, nuts, tree sap, as well as arthropods, and invertebrates like grasshoppers, ants, flies, caterpillars, and beetle larvae. The Red-bellied woodpecker diet also includes vertebrates like tree frogs, brown and green anoles, nestling birds, bird eggs, small fish, and catch insects in flight. These woodpeckers store food in cracks and crevices of trees to eat later.

Are they aggressive?

Red-bellied woodpeckers generally hide or harass by making alarm calls when a predator attacks. They become aggressive and fights directly at the time of protecting their nest and younger ones from these predators.

Would they make a good pet?

The Red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) brings a bright look and entertaining actions to your backyard. They can forage in any dead tree or artificial nests in homes. Their diet must include fruits, nuts, and insects. They even prefer to eat peanuts and sunflower seeds. They help humans by controlling insects which are considered pest species. There is no recorded evidence of Red-bellied woodpeckers mentioned as a threat to humans. But these birds are considered noisy and even more in the breeding season. Anyone who can enjoy these Red-bellied woodpecker sounds can have them as a pet without any delay as they add beauty to your backyard.

Did you know...

Here we have some more exciting facts about our noisy bird:

Red-bellied woodpecker nesting plays a vital role in the wildlife environment by providing habitat to other species like squirrels and bats. These species generally make drilling holes around their excavated cavity to warn others and make it safe for their younger ones. They can stretch their tongue up to three times its bill size and go below the jaws' base and wrap it behind and top of the head. The known predators of these woodpeckers are black rat snacks, sharp-shinned hawks, house rats, and copper hawks whereas known predators of their eggs and nestlings are owls, pileated woodpeckers, Red-headed woodpeckers, fox squirrels, eastern grey squirrels, grey rat snacks, and black rat snacks. Red-bellied woodpeckers are known to take over the nests of other small (endangered) birds like Red-cockaded woodpeckers.

Generally, the group of woodpeckers is called 'descent,' 'drumming,' or 'gatling' of Woodpeckers, but there is no specific name for the Red-bellied woodpeckers' group.

What is the difference between a male and female red-bellied woodpecker?

The red color can distinguish the male and female Red-bellied woodpecker on its head. Males have more bright and extensive coloring on the head from bill to the nape, whereas females have red patches on the nape and another above the bill or beak.

What relationship does the red-bellied woodpecker have to the European starling?

European Starlings highly invade Red-bellied woodpecker nests. These Starlings are more aggressive while searching for nest sites, and they generally build nests on top of existing bird nests and destroys the eggs laid by other birds, throws out their nesting material, and kills younger ones. Red-bellied woodpeckers are victims of this nesting competition and lose 39% of their nests to Starlings.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including Muscovy duck, or shrike.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Red-bellied woodpecker coloring pages.

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