Red-headed Woodpecker

photo by Phil Swanson

Melanerpes erythrocephalus
L 9 1/4″ (24 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (UNL audios)


Loud “queer, queer, queer,” and a hen-like “ker-r-r-ruck, ker-ruck-ruck-ruck.”

Description: Sexes similar. Bright red head, neck, and throat; blue-black back; and snowy white underparts. Distinctive white inner wing patches and white rump are highly visible in both flying and perched birds. Juvenile has a brown head, and white underparts with brown streaking.

red headed woodpecker
Habitat: Occurs in fairly open forest, woodlots, urban parks, and wooded housing areas.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant and summer resident across the state. More common in eastern Nebraska. Very rarely overwinters. Regular breeder.

Status: Decreasing in parts of its range due to habitat loss and competition with Starlings for nest holes.

Fun Facts: Regularly stores grasshoppers alive, for future feeding, in crevices so tight that they cannot escape. Males incubate and brood at night.

Red-headed Woodpecker - photo by Phil Swanson Red-headed Woodpecker - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)