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Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus

It’s not an apt name,so it’s easy to get tripped up.

You won’t likely see the faint red belly of this questionably named bird, but the bright red feathers atop the head will catch your attention! That and the zebra-like pattern of black and white on the wings make this bird easy to identify. The female just has a bit of red on her head, compared to the male.

These birds are quite vocal with a variety of calls and drumming sounds.

Photo Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation


about 2.6 ounces


They are a medium size and run about 10 inches long.

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This bird is omnivorous, meaning that it will eat fruits and nuts, as well as insects.


As the name woodpecker implies, this bird will often be seen using its long beak to extract insects from underneath the bark of trees. Their tail feathers are very stiff, which helps to support the bird in this awkward position. Woodpeckers live in forests and woodlands and will often be found at feeders as well, where they enjoy seed and suet.

Life Cycle

The woodpecker makes a distinctive drumming sound during the courting stage.

Both parents will work to excavate the nest from the dead tree or snag, creating a cavity in which to raise their young. They may use the same nest more than once. The female lays from 2-6 eggs.


The woodpecker is here year round.

Fun Facts

Like adult children, offspring will continue to give a begging call when they see their parents for some time after they fledge.

Similar Species

All male woodpeckers locally have some degree of red on their head area. The red-headed woodpecker pictured below actually has a head that is entirely red, not to be confused with any other!

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