With its fully crimson red head, white body, black tail, and half white half deep black wings, the Red-headed Woodpecker is one of the more easily identifiable woodpeckers that live in Michigan. This bird is found throughout most of the lower 48 states in forests, orchards, farmland, grassland, and along roadsides. Since the woodpecker excavates a nest cavity in tree trunks using its chisel-shaped bill, it prefers to nest in softer wood like dead or dying pine, maple, cottonwood, or oak trees. Unlike most woodpeckers, the Red-headed Woodpecker will reuse a nest cavity for several years and will often excavate a second cavity to roost in during the fall. The Red-headed Woodpecker uses its rigid tail feathers as a brace while clinging to the trunk of a tree and it catches insects from crevices and tunnels with its barbed and sticky tongue. Woodpeckers’ tongues are so long they wrap under base of the head and anchor to the top of the skull! This bird can snatch insects out of the air to eat them on the fly. It also eats acorns and beech nuts, which it stores under bark to eat later. Look for this crimson flier the next time you visit your Metroparks!
Listen to the Red-headed Woodpecker’s call here.