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Bird Bio - Red-bellied Woodpecker

Common Name:

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Scientific Name:

Melanerpes carolinus


The Red-bellied Woodpecker is a large bird about 9" in length. As its name implies, it has a small redish patch on the lower belly. The male sports a red cap and nape; the female has only a red nape. Wings, back and tail feathers present black and white bars. The head and breast are tan.


Woodpeckers will take a week or ten days to dig a hole in a living or dying tree to build their nest, and make a new hole each season. They sometimes use existing holes in stumps, poles or posts located in woodland areas and parks. Red-bellied Woodpeckers will also use nest boxes provided in suburban locations. The female lays up to 3-8 eggs that are white. Incubation takes 12-14 days, and they will leave the nest 22-27 days later. The Red-bellied Woodpecker will raise 2-3 broods annually, with the male and female sharing incubation and care responsibilities.


Red-bellied Woodpeckers live in the eastern two-thirds of the United States, but moves down from higher elevations and the northern tier of the country in Winter. Red-bellied Woodpeckers eat insects, along with fruit (they are especially partial to oranges), nuts, berries, and seed. They will frequent feeders for nuts, seeds, fruits and suet. Often, the woodpecker will store food by wedging it deep into crevices.

The Red-belled Woodpecker has no known predators.

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