Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Wednesday Bird of the Week: September 5, 2018

Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) showing off
the namesake red head.

This bird of the week isn't the most common woodpecker species of this area, but it is definitely my favorite. There's no wondering why this beautiful bird is called red-headed. With such a bright red head they can be hard to miss.

One of the seven woodpecker species found in Kansas, the Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) isn't around for the whole year. During the winter they make a trip to parts of Texas and southern Louisiana, returning to breed in the Spring.
Picking at the tree a little before taking off.
Sadly, this year I haven't seen as many as I have in past years, which should be of no surprise for a species that is under conservation watch as a declining species. This is likely due to a loss in nut bearing trees all over the range of this great species and the cutting down of dead trees which they use for nesting and food storage.

The Red-headed Woodpecker, much like most other woodpecker species, are cavity nesters. They like creating holes in the tops of dead trees and telephone poles. They can have a clutch ranging from three to ten eggs and can have two broods per year. 

 These birds are fairly easy to distinguish from other woodpecker species. They have a very distinct red head and a beautiful black and white feather pattern on their backs. Being quite chatty is another characteristic of this species that I really enjoy. They definitely like to make their presence known and defend the trees that they have claimed very fiercely from other birds.

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