red-headed woodpecker

Red-headed woodpeckers are uncommon to rare in my area and declining in general throughout their range due to habitat loss and changes in availability of their food supply (primarily tree nuts). However, over the past few years they have become more prevalent around here as an overwintering species. A handful of them now typically show up each winter, scattered around the region. Earlier this week one was seen at a local park, in the same exact spot where another one had spent the winter a few years ago. The interesting thing is that both birds were immature birds, meaning they could not have been the same individual. So, somehow this second bird found this same spot, and chose to use what I’m pretty sure is the same tree for food caching. I went over to the park today and immediately found the bird, after running into a fellow birder who had just seen it. The sky was overcast, so the photos didn’t come out that great, but here are a few nonetheless. Once the bird finishes molting into its adult plumage it will have a bright red head and solid white patches on its wings, instead of the brownish head and black-spotted white patches seen here. In the last photo there are a few red feathers visible in the throat/upper breast.

Red-headed Woodpecker © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Red-headed Woodpecker (immature)

Red-headed Woodpecker © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Red-headed Woodpecker (immature)

Red-headed Woodpecker © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Red-headed Woodpecker (immature)

Red-headed Woodpecker © 2015 S. D. Stewart

Red-headed Woodpecker (immature)

Leave a comment


  1. kalidurga

     /  December 1, 2015

    I think I see them fairly frequently over in Frederick and Washington counties. Though I don’t know species very well and might be confusing it with something else. I do know that I see the occasional pileated ‘pecker, though. They’re hard to mistake.

    • They’re definitely more common in Frederick County, particularly the northern part, than in Baltimore County. Also in northwestern Carroll County, west of Taneytown. They breed out there, although they’re still much less numerous than other resident woodpeckers. The adults have completely dark red heads in contrast to the more common red-bellied woodpecker, which has reddish orange only on the back and top of its head, the rest of which is white. Also the red-headed has an all-black back with conspicuous large white patches, whereas the red-bellied has a black-and-white zebra pattern on the back.

      (These photos do not do the species justice in the least…and the adults look much more striking.)



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Recent Posts

  • Navigation Station

    The links along the top of the page are rudimentary attempts at trail markers. Otherwise, see below for more search and browse options.

  • In Search of Lost Time

  • Personal Taxonomy

  • Common Ground

  • Resources


%d bloggers like this: