Fun Red-headed Woodpecker Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed
Red-Headed Woodpecker facts are highly educational.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 10.1 Min

Are you a bird lover and you spend your leisure hours watching different types of birds? Here we have all the best facts on one of the most iconic birds of North America.

These North American birds fall under the category of some of the very few birds that can only be found on the continent of North America and thus they are rightly termed as famous birds of North America. These are small to average-sized birds which vibrant in their colors. These little birds are expert hunters and they hunt small insects for their food but are fond of nuts and seeds as well.

These North American birds were once categorized as a Threatened species however it was reverted back to Least Concern. However, that doesn't give anyone the license to make these North American birds pets or even kill them. These birds are protected by the US Migratory Law which makes it illegal for any person to keep these birds as pets. If anyone is found guilty, they will have to pay a hefty penalty or even serve jail time or even both.

Continue reading this article to know more about red-headed woodpeckers. If you find this article interesting then do check out pileated woodpecker and goose facts too.

Red-Headed Woodpecker Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Red-Headed Woodpecker?

The Red-Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) is a type of woodpecker and is a bird.

What class of animal does a Red-Headed Woodpecker belong to?

The Red-Headed Woodpeckers are North American birds that belong to the class of Aves of the Animalia kingdom.

How many Red-Headed Woodpeckers are there in the world?

There is no exact data that defines the total number of Red-Headed Woodpeckers are present in the world today but it can be roughly estimated that the number is slightly greater than 10,000 mature individuals.

Where does a Red-Headed Woodpecker live?

The Red-Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) can be found in nests which they build in the cavity of a tree and mainly in forest areas and grasslands. These birds are exclusive to North America but can also be found near the Gulf of Mexico. Earlier they were evenly distributed all across the continent from the Atlantic in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west. However, with the passage of time and with increased destruction of habitat by various human activities they are now sporadically found in North America.

What is a Red-Headed Woodpecker's habitat?

The habitat of the Red-Headed Woodpecker range from woodlands, forest edges, scattered trees, savannah to grasslands. These birds who build nests in a tree can be also found in orchards, open woods, clearings, and forest ages. During the season of winter, the Red-Headed Woodpecker nests are usually found in the forests that are filled with deciduous trees where there is an abundance of food and shelter.

Who do Red-Headed Woodpeckers live with?

The small Red-Headed Woodpecker are generally solitary animals found who build their nest in a tree cavity, however, during the season of mating, they start looking out for partners. All through the range of the year, they spend the majority of their time gathering food. The Red-Headed Woodpecker nest is also built through the year from various foraging. The Red-Headed Woodpecker can be seen spending the summers in the Eastern part of the country but the Red-Headed Woodpecker flying to the southern states during winter is not uncommon. These birds migrate to the south for a warm climate which is impossible to find in the Rockies.

How long does a Red-Headed Woodpecker live?

Red-Headed Woodpeckers generally have a life span of around 10 years or 119 months approximately. However, few birds of these species have been known to survive as long as 12 years out in the wild living the nest in a tree cavity.

How do they reproduce?

Though the reproduction in Red-Headed Woodpeckers is usually monogamous in nature, polygamous reproduction is also seen among these species of birds. These birds make their nest in trees cavity, under buildings, and also natural holes. Both variants of male and female take part in building the nests. However, the males usually do are seen doing the drilling in dead trees for building their shelters i.e nest cavities. The breeding season of these birds usually happens in summer and thus the eggs are laid by the female birds during the months of April to July. Between 3-10 eggs are usually laid during the brood and both the males and females are seen incubating the eggs for a period of roughly two weeks inside the nest cavities. While the females incubate the eggs during the day, the males do so at night. Like all birds, the new hatchlings are born blind. The parent bird takes care and feeds these young birds till they are mature enough and then ultimately drives the young ones away from the nest sites. Occasionally two broods are seen in a year for these species of birds.

What is their conservation status?

Since the last century, the population of the Red-Headed Woodpeckers has decreased substantially, and thus as a result the International Union for Conservation for Nature or the IUCN Red List categorized under the Threatened section. However, since 2018 a significant of their population increased, and thus as a result the IUCN placed it as Least Concern for the time being. As their number is steadily on the decrease, it is estimated roughly that a little more than 10,000 individuals are left on this planet.

Red-Headed Woodpecker Fun Facts

What do Red-Headed Woodpeckers look like?

As we can guess from its name, Red-Headed Woodpeckers are mainly red in color. Other colors like black and white too are observed in this species of birds. The neck, head, and upper portion of the body are red while there are white specks in their wings. The majority of the tails and wings are black thereby making it an exquisite-looking bird. Both the male and female variants of this species are identical in looks, shapes, and sizes.

Red-Headed Woodpecker facts are informative.

How cute are they?

These birds are extremely cute. Their bright colors along with their small and cute size can really be considered adorable by many people.

How do they communicate?

Communication is a vital aspect of the successful survival of any species. A bird calls and communicates among themselves and with other animals in a number of ways. The Red-Headed Woodpeckers are no different. This bird uses numerous ways of communicating which include the likes of drumming, beating, and calls. The Red-Headed Woodpecker call serves as messages which are transmitted by one to another regarding territorial conquests, courtship, and mating rituals. A very common method of communication is observed in this bird where the male variants of the species tap from the inside of the nest at regular intervals while the females reciprocate by tapping on the outside of the nest or the nest sites. The Red-Headed Woodpecker calls,  Red-Headed Woodpecker sounds,  Red-Headed Woodpecker song, and the  Red-Headed Woodpecker sound all fall under the category of calls and communication.

How big is a Red-Headed Woodpecker?

The length of the Red-Headed Woodpecker usually lies in the range of 8.3-9.8 in or 21-25 cm and the wingspan is of the length around 13-14.5 in or 33-37 cm. This size is pretty small in comparison to other birds of this family. These birds have their beaks in the size of a chisel which is used for drilling the trees.

How fast can a Red-Headed Woodpecker fly?

These young birds i.e juvenile Red-Headed Woodpecker are excellent flyers and they hunt their prey and catch insects while flying. These birds can also be seen searching for their food while perching on trees. After finding their prey, they swoop from the branches of the trees and chase their prey till they are caught.

How much does a Red-Headed Woodpecker weigh?

The weight of the large Red-Headed Woodpecker lies in the range of 2.5-2.6 oz or 70-75 g. These birds are quite small in shape and size and thus they are quite light in weight. Red-headed woodpeckers are also the smallest birds in their family and so in comparison to other small-sized birds, they are a bit tiny.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is no specified name that has been assigned to the male and the female variants of the Red-Headed Woodpeckers. However, since these are birds we can use the traditional names that are assigned for male and female birds like the Red-Headed Woodpecker male and female. Thus, we can call the male Red-Headed Woodpecker a cock and the female Red-Headed Woodpecker a hen.

What would you call a baby Red-Headed Woodpecker?

Similar to all birds, a baby bird is called a hatchling as it hatches from eggs. In the case of a young Red-Headed Woodpecker, we can call it a Red-Headed Woodpecker hatchling.

What do they eat?

These species of birds are omnivorous in nature meaning they consume both plant matter as well as animals. These small birds are known to be expert hunters of insects. The majority of their diet includes the likes of spiders, nuts, earthworms, seeds, berries, and other fruits. These birds who love nuts and seeds are also known to have a notorious habit of eating eggs of other birds. This usually happens if they find a nest on a tree cavity in which they are boring a hole.

The giant Red-headed Woodpecker loves to catch insects and their powerful wings and the chisel-shaped beak helps them in obtaining their food. If these birds are carefully observed you might see them being perched on high poles or treetops and constantly on the lookout for insects. Once they spot food, they swoop down at a very high speed and chase and eventually catch their prey i.e insects. Owing to their small and minuscule size these birds can easily chase their prey in bushes, shrubs, and in the forest edges. As for eating nuts, seeds, and other had coated fruits, these birds peck on the nuts and break them into many pieces and extract the nuts efficiently and then consume them. These birds also consume food materials that are stored by other birds in holes and free openings of trees. These birds then store food in the cavities which they bore.  

Why do they peck?

The pecking of a big Red-Headed Woodpecker has two distinct uses. With their sharp beak, they create cavities and holes in trees which acts as a nest and provides a shelter for these birds against predators and helps them in storing food and other materials. The other use of pecking is for mating. During the breeding season, the sound made by the pecking serves as a mating call for these woodpecker species.

Would they make a good pet?

It is illegal to keep woodpeckers as pets. As the population of these species is constantly on the decline, these birds are protected by the US Migratory Bird Act and other bird conservation acts. However, you can surely take care of a sick or an injured woodpecker till you take them to a nearby rehabilitation center. As these birds were once given the status of Near Threatened by the IUCN, proper conservation methods have been implemented to take care of these birds. So this species of birds will be an absolute no for you if you are planning to keep one as a pet.

Did you know...

As these birds have bright red color in major parts of their body and black color in their wings with little specks of whites here and there, while flying these birds look like a flying checkerboard.

Is it illegal to kill a Red-Headed Woodpecker?

Yes, it is illegal to kill Red-Headed Woodpeckers. Since these birds are threatened due to the loss of their habitat and their numbers constantly on the decline, these birds are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. For killing a woodpecker you need to get a special permit from the concerned authorities. There is however strict penalty for killing a Red-Headed Woodpecker. It can land a person in jail with a heft price of fine or both.

What does it mean to see a Red-Headed Woodpecker?

The woodpecker is often considered a powerful animal and is used in totems and charms for good luck. This animal symbolizes power and opportunity. It is believed that seeing a woodpecker can make a hopeless man, hopeful again and can instill confidence and not giving up attitude in someone. Woodpeckers are also believed to maintain the dynamic rhythm and balance in someone and thus can make someone kind and gentle.

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 pelican, or kiwi.

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

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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