Red-Bellied Woodpecker

red-bellied woodpecker sitting atop a dead tree
Red-bellied woodpecker

NPS Photo / Jeremy Stringfield

Melanerpes carolinus

Red-bellied woodpeckers are found throughout much of the eastern United states year-round. They eat a great deal of insects, but can also eat some seeds and nuts. They forage for most of their food in the trees and they'll sometimes catch insects in mid-air. Red-bellied woodpeckers also store nuts and seeds in the crevices of tree bark to consume during the winter.

Red-bellied woodpeckers build their nests in empty cavities in trees that they either excavate themselves or find already made. Females will lay an average of four to five eggs (but can lay as many as eight). Both parents will take turns incubating the eggs and will also share the responsibility of feeding the newborn chicks. The chicks may leave the nest three or four weeks after hatching but can continue being fed by the parents for several weeks after leaving the nest.

Kaufman, K. (2001). Lives of North American Birds. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Shackelford, C. E., Brown, R. E., & Conner, R. N. (2000). Red-bellied woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus. In: Poole, A.; Gill, F., eds. The Birds of North America, No. 500. Philadelphia, PA: The Birds of North America, Inc. 24 p.

Last updated: May 4, 2021

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