Nov. 3 – BOTD – Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-Headed Woodpecker climbing an oak tree in Jacksonville, Florida

Here is my entry for Granny Shot It’s  Bird of the Day (BOTD) challenge.

The Red-Headed Woodpecker is a 7.5″-9″ species of woodpecker that lives & breeds mainly in most of the eastern & northern United States. They have been known to migrate to Texas & Louisiana during the winter months in loose flocks. They often move during the daytime in the fall & the night time in the spring. The migration is dependent on how well the acorn & beech nut crops are. They breed in woodlands of oak & beech trees where trees are dead or dying. They will often use snags that have lost most of its bark to deter snakes. Dying trees provide plenty of insects and the capability to build a cavity for a nest. The male builds a nest from an existing hole of his choosing. The female may tap around it when she approves of his handy work. They have also been known to build nests in utility poles. Unlike many other woodpeckers, the Red-Headed Woodpecker often uses the same nest cavity for several years before moving on to the next. They will have 1-2 broods a year and the female will lay 3-10 eggs that are 1″ (2.5 cm) long x .8″ (1.9 cm) wide. The eggs are pure white and hatch between day 12-14. The new chicks will fledge after about a month.

From 1966-2014, there was more than a 2% decline per year and a cumulative decline of 70% in the span of those 48 years. The population is making a slow progression back & was rated as “least concern” in 2018…downlisted from “near threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. The decline was mostly due to the destruction of habitat and conservationists have had a loud voice in the past decade. Predators of all sizes & shapes don’t help the baby boom either.

We had a Red-Headed Woodpecker living in a tree at the end of our street for 3 years. Hurricane Matthew took down the tree as it was on its way to being dead. We haven’t seen the woodpecker since. It was too bad. We got used to seeing him return year after year. He was a male breeding just like the photo above. The image above was taken about 4 miles from here in a neighborhood community park.

If you haven’t seen this bird, I hope you do someday. The male in breeding colors is one of the most distinct birds you will ever see. Happy Birding!

12 Comments on “Nov. 3 – BOTD – Red-Headed Woodpecker

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