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These birds are fairly large striking black and white woodpeckers with prominent white inner wing patches. On the adults the entire head is red. Both sexes are similar with white underparts. The remainder of the adult's plumage is black. The juvenile is mostly barred brown above and is streaked below. All ages share a white rump which connects the wing patches.
The Red Headed Woodpecker is fairly numerous. This is a typical woodpecker that has the supportive stiff tail and two backward facing toes for climbing. A common migrant and summer resident this is the only woodpecker with a completely red head. It has a powerful pointed bill and is sturdily built. This bird eats a varied diet of insects, fruit, acorns and are known to eat the eggs of other birds. Near the end of summer you will see them busily moving around tree trunks in a series of jerky hops as they collect food stuff which is stored for the winter.
Favoring woods, farms and orchards where there is a generous supply of food, the Red Headed Woodpecker's staccato hammering can be heard for great distances. When trying to attract a female the male will strike a horizontal pose with his neck stretched forward, plumage sleeked and his shoulders humped. The female will inspect the prospective nest cavity by tapping on it and if she accepts the nest both birds will line the inside with wood chips before she lays the four or five white eggs. The female stays with the eggs during the day and the male will incubate the eggs at night to protect them from predators. There was some concern about this bird from 1982 through 1986 when it was discovered that the population was diminishing due to a loss of their natural nesting habitat. They avoid bird houses and were attempting to nest in creosote coated utility poles which were lethal to the eggs and young.