Wildlife Journal Junior!
New Hampshire PBS

Home       |       Wild Files       |       N.H. Animals       |       Animals A-Z       |       Watch Online

Red-bellied Woodpecker - Melanerpes carolinus

Red-bellied Woodpecker


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Piciformes
 Family: Picidae 
 Genus: Melanerpes
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern


Red-bellied WoodpeckerThe red-bellied woodpecker has a light cream to pink chest and belly, barred black and white wings and back, reddish markings around its bill, and a red crown. The male has red on the crown and on the nape of his neck. The female has red just on the nape of her neck.


mapThe red-bellied woodpecker can be found in most of the eastern United States, except for northern New England. Birds in the northern most part of the range may migrate in the winter.



Red-bellied WoodpeckerThe red-bellied woodpecker makes its home in open and swampy woodlands. In the winter, birds in the northern most parts of the range may move south.



Red-bellied WoodpeckerThe red-bellied woodpecker eats beetles, grasshoppers, ants, and other insects. It also eats acorns, beechnuts, and fruits. It uses its bill to probe for insects in trees and tree stumps. The red-bellied woodpecker sometimes stores food in a tree cavity. In the winter, the red-bellied woodpecker's diet is mostly seeds, and it can often be found at bird feeders.

Life Cycle

Red-bellied WoodpeckerRed-bellied woodpeckers tap their bills together when they are courting. The nest cavity is built by both the male and the female. The cavity is lined with wood chips and is about a foot deep. It is usually built in a dead or dying tree. The female lays 3-8 eggs, and both the male and female incubate the eggs and care for the young. The male incubates at night. The chicks hatch in about three weeks, and they fledge in about a month. The chicks usually stay with their parents until the fall.


Red-bellied WoodpeckerRed-bellied woodpeckers aggressively defend their nesting cavities, but starlings frequently take over their nesting sites.

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Chris Parrishs cc logo