Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Genus: Melanerpes
Species: carolinus

Description: Red-bellied woodpeckers have black and white striped pattern on the back and wings that forms a zebra pattern. This is an important marking to look out for when identifying the species. The neck, chest and rump are white, while the belly is white with a red tinge. The faint reddish color on their belly can be hidden by white feathers, making identifying this species a bit of a challenge.

One of the most common mistakes when identifying this bird is confusing red-bellied woodpeckers and red-headed woodpeckers because both of these woodpeckers have red on their heads. Here is how to tell the two species apart:

  1. Red-bellied woodpeckers have red on the top and back of the head. The face, chin and cheeks are white.

  2. Red-headed woodpeckers have an entirely red head, including the chin and face.

Remember: just because there is some red on the head, does not make it a red-headed woodpecker!

Red-bellied woodpeckers call using rolling "chirr" or "qurr" sounds. They also make a repetitive twang-like "cha-cha-cha".

Range: Look for red-bellied woodpeckers in woodlands, wetlands and suburban trees throughout the eastern half of the continental United States.

  • Fun Fact
    Red-bellied woodpeckers often have to defend their nests and eggs from European starlings that try to overtake the nest.
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