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Red-bellied Woodpecker

Melanerpes carolinus ORDER: PICIFORMES FAMILY: PICIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Red-bellied Woodpecker Photo

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are pale, medium-sized woodpeckers common in forests of the East. Their strikingly barred backs and gleaming red caps make them an unforgettable sight – just resist the temptation to call them Red-headed Woodpeckers, a somewhat rarer species that's mostly black on the back with big white wing patches. Learn the Red-bellied's rolling call and you’ll notice these birds everywhere.

Learn About Celebrate Urban Birds!
Jane Kim Mural

Backyard Tips

Red-bellied Woodpeckers bring bright colors and entertaining action to bird feeders. If you live near any wooded patches, you may be able to attract them using feeders filled with suet (in winter), peanuts, and sometimes sunflower seeds. They’ve even been spotted drinking nectar from hummingbird feeders. Dead trees may encourage the birds to forage naturally or even nest in your yard, and they may feed on berry trees such as hawthorn or mountain-ash in fall or winter.

Find This Bird

Keep an eye out for this species in eastern woodlands all year round, particularly at middle heights and along main branches and trunks of trees. It pays to learn the bird’s calls, too: Red-bellied Woodpeckers are loud and call frequently during spring and summer.

Get Involved

Landscape your yard for woodpeckers and other cavity-nesting birds (PDF)

Red-bellied Woodpeckers love to come to bird feeders. Watch them and report your sightings as part of Project FeederWatch, the Great Backyard Bird Count, or all year long via the free online program eBird.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker from Bent's Life Histories of North American Birds (1939)