Ten Common Birds Of The GTA

DeRango Productions

Red–headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

Family: Picidae

This is a bird that is easily identifiable by its bright red head and white wing patches. It looks like this bird dunked his entire head in a beautiful red coloring. The Red Headed Woodpecker is the most adapted bird at catching flying insects. It is also one of four Woodpeckers in the species known to reserve food in the winter months, and is the only known species to cover food with bark and other wood that it may find. And don’t let this pretty bird fool you; it can be quite aggressive if you get too close to the nest! They even have a tendency to be hostile and aggressive towards other woodpeckers and any other bird that presents itself as a threat to their nest or food supply. The Red Headed Woodpecker is a wonderful bird, and it’s a shame that it is one of the only birds on my list that is threatened by its declining population numbers.

Keys To Identification


8 - 8 inches. (20 - 23 centimeters) in length (fully grown), and weigh about 56 - 91 grams (2 - 3.2 ounces). They have a wingspan of about 16 - 17 inches (40 - 44 Centimeters).


The Red Headed Woodpecker has a vivid red head that you cant miss, its neck and crest also match with red coloring. Their wings are black with large white patches on them. These birds have dark eyes, a white crest below the red area, and have black and white on their tail-feathers. 

Both male and female Red Headed Woodpeckers tend to look alike
Juveniles have gray heads with some white or red. Young woodpeckers eventually molt (Molting is the process a bird will go through to when developing! Shedding its feathers, almost like a humans nails grow out and are cut), allowing the new adult feathers to grow in. They are obviously smaller in size.

Sounds Like:

 http://diggles.webs.com/red-headed woodpecker.mp3

Voice: The Red Headed Woodpeckers sounds like exactly what its doing - pecking into the bark of a tree. When in song, the bird sounds like its churping.


The Red Headed Woodpecker is a stunning bird. They are often found catching bugs right out of the air, they swoop low and chase after their flying snack. When food is scarce, they tend to store nuts and acorns, hiding them in holes and crevices, similar to the White Breasted Nuthatch. As the name suggests, the bird obviously does peck into wood or bark not always to find insects, but to prepare nests too. Unfortunately this is the only bird that is a part of my top ten list that is near threatened with its steady species decline. It surely is a bird that you would be able to observe in your backyard of Toronto and its surrounding areas, but its not the easiest one to find.


If you can spot one of these stunning birds, chances are it would be in open agricultural areas with groves of dead and dying trees, particularly orchards. They breed in deciduous woodlands, and prefer beech and oak trees. You can find them in parks, and your backyard. Hopefully their numbers increase in the years to come and they spread their range.


The Red Headed Woodpecker forages for their food by chasing flying after insects. Red Headed woodpeckers are also known to steal eggs from other nests if they are really hungry. Their diet mainly consists of insects, spiders, earthworms, nuts, berries, seeds, fruits and a few small mammals too.

Similar birds:

The Red Headed Woodpecker can often be mistaken with the Red Bellied Woodpecker. Differences include a spotted back for the Red Bellied Woodpecker, and it doesn’t have the full red head like its predecessor. And I couldn’t resist - you all know him as Woody The Woodpecker, but if you learned anything from my Online Identification guide it would be how to identify a Red Headed Woodpecker – and Woody certainly is one.  Below you can see pictures of The Red Bellied Woodpecker, and yours truly Woody The Woodpecker.

Range: (the geographical area where this species can be found)


The Red Headed Woodpecker can be found year round in Central and Eastern United States. It will spend its summers breeding in parts of Canada, and north of Texas!

Interesting Facts:

This bird was featured on a United States Postal Service 2-cent stamp in 1996.
As you can see from the little picture I found.



Here is an interesting video I found on Youtube where you can observe a Red Headed Woodpecker at a nearby Feeder!

Video Courtesy of Nature Of Animals, 2008



"Red Headed Woodpecker. Birdzilla. Web. 24 Nov 2009. <http://www.birdzilla.com/images/stories/glenn/v-red-headed-woodpecker.jpg>.

"Red Headed Woodpecker_2." WildLife Photography. Web. 23 Nov 2009. <http://www.wildlife-photography.uk.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/redheaded-woodpeckerimg_7273.jpg>.

"Red Bellied Woodpecker." 1000 Birds. Web. 22 Nov 2009. <http://www.1000birds.com/images/Red-bellied-Woodpecker60264.jpg>.

"Woody The Woodpecker." Kids n Fun. Web. 10 Nov 2009. <http://www.kids-n-fun.com/Images/Kleuren/90.jpg>.

"Red Headed Woodpecker Range Map." All About Birds. Web. 13 Nov 2009. <http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/PHOTO/LARGE/mela_eryt_AllAm_map.gif>.

"USA 2 Cent Stamp." Arago. Web. 14 Nov 2009. <http://www.arago.si.edu/media/000/002/016/2016_th.jpg>.  

"Red Headed Woodpecker up close." YouTube. Web. 14 Nov 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKH5_wf9KHo>.

"Wikipedia red Headed Woodpecker." Wikipedia. Web. 11 Nov 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Headed_Woodpecker>.  

Ransom, Jay Ellias. Complete Filed Guide To North American Wildlife. Eastern Edition. New York: Harper and Row, 1981. 40, 183 184. Print.