I hadn’t seen the Red Headed Woodpecker since
earlier this Spring . . . it was a delight to have him back!!
Image taken in my backyard in northeast Iowa. USA
Melanerpes erythrocephalus ORDER: PICIFORMES FAMILY: PICIDAE
An unmistakable bird, the Red-headed Woodpecker is striking at rest and in flight, showing its colors of red, black, and white. It is one of the most aggressive members of the family and one of the most omnivorous.
The Red-headed Woodpecker is one of only four woodpeckers known to store food, and it is the only one known to cover the stored food with wood or bark. It hides insects and seeds in cracks in wood, under bark, in fence posts, and under roof shingles. Grasshoppers are regularly stored alive, but wedged into crevices so tightly that they cannot escape.
In addition to attacking other birds to keep them out of its territory, the Red-headed Woodpecker is also known to remove the eggs of other species from nests and nest boxes, destroy nests, and even to enter duck-nesting boxes and puncture the duck eggs.
The Red-headed Woodpecker benefited from the chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease. The devastating tree diseases killed many trees and provided nest sites for the woodpeckers.
Breeds in deciduous woodlands, especially beech or oak, river bottoms, open woods, groves of dead and dying trees, orchards, parks, open country with scattered trees, forest edges, and open wooded swamps with dead trees and stumps. Attracted to burns and recent clearings. Winters in mature stands of forest, especially those with oaks.