RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER(Melanerpes carolinus) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION:  The Red-bellied Woodpecker has a black back, tail and wings with fine white bars. The male has a red crown. Under parts, including sides of face and neck, are light grey. Bill, legs and feet are dark grey. Bird is around 24 cm (10 inches) long.
NAME: The English name of the Red-bellied Woodpecker is somewhat of a misnomer because the red color is found mainly on its head and nape rather than on its belly. The Latin genus name ‘Melanerpes’ means a ‘black creeper’. The Latin species name ‘Carolinus’ refers to Carolina, USA.
HABITAT: Various types of forests, also urban areas.
DIET: Insects, arthropods and other invertebrates, also seeds, berries, even small bird chicks and reptiles. Attracted to bird feeders (see photo below).
NESTING: Nest built in dead tree or fence post, lined with wood shavings. Two to five white eggs are laid, incubated by both parents. They also both feed the chicks.
DISTRIBUTION: Year-round range in most of the eastern half of USA.
Distribution map:
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, occurrence rare to accidental (see photo below).
CONSERVATION: Common and widespread, population increased over last few decades, not at risk.
NOTES: Woodpeckers have a tongue that can extend far outside the bill, with sticky saliva and a barbed end to seize prey in deep tree crevices. This species also squeezes hard seeds into bark crevices and hammers at them until they crack open. Also hoards food.
Toes: The red-bellied woodpecker has two forward and two backward toes, which allows better grip when climbing vertically on tree trunks. In addition, their tail feathers have stiff ends to provide more support.
Drumming: Woodpeckers tap and drum on hard resounding surfaces to claim territory and attract mates, and the red-bellied species is no exception. These woodpeckers will even drum on utility poles, metal roofs, anything they can find that gives them good ‘results’. For more information on drumming please see the page ‘Interesting Behaviors’ on this website.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Red-headed Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker
REFERENCES: (New Hampshire PBS) (Missouri Department of Conservation) (University of Michigan)

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Grayton State Park, FL – Mar. 39, 2018 – Roberta Palmer
Red-bellied woodpecker, FL
by Roberta Palmer