Tree-clinging Birds

Red-bellied Woodpecker Red-bellied Woodpecker
Melanerpes carolinus


10" (25 cm). Barred black and white above; pale buff below and on face; sexes similar except that male has red crown and nape, female red nape only. Reddish patch on lower abdomen is seldom visible in the field.


Open and swampy woodlands; comes into parks during migration and to feeders in winter.


4 or 5 white eggs in a tree cavity, often at edge of woodlands.


Breeds from South Dakota, Great Lakes, and southern New England south to Gulf Coast and Florida. Northernmost birds sometimes migrate south for winter.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker


Chuck-chuck-chuck, descending in pitch. Also a loud, often repeated churrrr.


A common woodpecker over much of the South, the Red-bellied is scarcer farther north but has expanded its breeding range northward in recent decades. Like most woodpeckers, it is beneficial, consuming large numbers of wood-boring beetles as well as grasshoppers, ants, and other insect pests. It also feeds on acorns, beechnuts, and wild fruits. It is one of the woodpeckers that habitually stores food.