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Monday, 11 June 2012

The Red-Headed Woodpecker

image credit Chuck Starr via flickr

As its name suggests, the Read-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) has a red head and neck. The back, forewing, and tail are black, contrasting with the white rear wings, under parts, and rump. Their bills are long and chisel shaped, which is significant for drilling into trees. Both the male and female are similar in appearance whereas the young have a brown to black head and neck with a streaked chest and belly.

This species is one of the most omnivorous woodpeckers, taking a very wide range of prey. It flies to catch insects in the air, snatches worms, spiders, insects and sometimes small mammals from the ground, and also feeds on nuts fruits, and seeds. They are also known to eat eggs of others birds.

When it comes to building a nest, the Red-headed Woodpecker likes holes in dead trees or dead limbs of a living tree the best. If a hole already exists they will use it but if none can be found, both male and female will drill out a new nest hole. The female will lay round about 4 to 7 eggs which are incubated for about two weeks with both parents taking a turn.

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