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Red-Headed Woodpecker

Melanerpes erythrocephalus


This is a medium-sized woodpecker. Its most striking attribute is a deep dark red/crimson ‘helmet’ covering the head, neck and upper breast. It has a ‘tuxedo’ body with white breast front, black wings with white patches…contrasted with a black tail. This bird is considered Near Threatened, and is on the IUCN Red List. Development and habitat loss are a factor.


These birds were spotted in the northwest Florida panhandle, in Big Lagoon State Park, west of Pensacola. The area sits on the Intracoastal Waterway adjacent to the Gulf. The birds are nesting in a salt marsh interspersed with open woodlands. The area where we spotted the birds has a number of dead Slash Pine trees….which are critical to the bird’s survival. Dead trees provide softer, decaying wood through which the woodpeckers can hollow out for nests and cover.


Some interesting characteristics of this woodpecker…it forages for food, including insects, acorns and nuts, rather than pecking holes in trees to find insects. According to some sources, they store insects alive…for instance wedging grasshoppers in crevices so that they cannot escape. This bird is aggressive in defending their territory. This was noted while snapping photos, see the 3rd photo above depicting two Red-Headeds attacking a Red-Bellied woodpecker near their nest.

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Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 7 years ago

Thanks, Nick!

NickKing 7 years ago

Gorgeous photos!

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 7 years ago

Thanks Triggs and Neil!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 7 years ago

Beautiful in every sense of the word. Great spotting, Jim.

triggsturner 7 years ago

Great series Jim. Stunning birds.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 7 years ago

Thanks, Amol.

AmolPandit 7 years ago

Wow !!! What a handsome bird!!!

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 7 years ago

Thanks, Michael...with that red head, these guys are fairly easy to spot.

Michael Strydom
Michael Strydom 7 years ago

Gorgeous red head and great in flight shot !!

Jim Nelson
Spotted by
Jim Nelson

Florida, USA

Spotted on Apr 24, 2016
Submitted on May 2, 2016

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