Point Pelee National Park, Ontario, Canada – A photographer's best chance at finding this bird in Ontario is probably during spring migration, in birding hot spots such as Point Pelee and Rondeau Provincial Park. Red-Headed Woodpeckers are similar in size to the familiar Blue Jay and are easily distinguished by its tri-coloured pattern: , , and . Adult male and females have identical plumage, so unless you compare their sizes side by side, you probably won’t be able to identify its gender with certainty. We assume this individual to be a male.
The Red-headed Woodpecker is listed as a vulnerable species in Canada and Near Threatened in US – (NT) assigned to species that may be considered threatened with extinction in the near future [Wikipedia].
Reasons for their decline? Primarily due to loss of nesting habitat – forest clearing for agriculture and settlement and removal of dead trees. The Red-Headed Woodpecker preference for large dead trees or trees with large dead limbs is well illustrated by the photograph below. Just say NO to the removal of dead trees.
The Red-Headed Woodpecker feeding patterns look in part similar to those of the Eastern Bluebird, as both will catch insects in flight or on the ground. But that’s where the similarity ends.
The Red-Headed Woodpecker will favour picking insects and their larvae from the trunks of dead trees and are known to cache their food in tree cavities for the cold days of the winter. Their diet is supplemented with eggs of other birds and apparently, even their young. (If you have more information on this behaviour, please let us know)
Left: Red-Headed Woodpecker photographed at Point Pelee during spring migration at 1000mm focal length.
Cool fact: The Red-Headed Woodpecker was once used as a war symbol by the Cherokee Indians.
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Links of Interest
How To Get To Point Pelee