Thursday, September 19, 2013

Knock, Knock, Who's There? Part II

Continuing the Knock Knock, Who’s There series, today we look at the Red-headed Woodpecker.   Of the eight species of woodpeckers on the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge Bird Check List, the Red-bellied and the Downy, covered in a previous post, are listed as likely to be seen, in suitable habitats, all year around at the Refuge.

The preferred habitat for the Red-headed Woodpecker is deciduous woods and areas of dead trees, with cavities for nesting.  They are found in the Northern and Eastern quadrants of Texas, across the lower Mid-west and the South, to the Atlantic coast, and their breeding grounds cover the upper Mid-west.    At the Refuge, they are often observed at Dead Woman Pond, where they were reported this week, as well as Big Mineral Picnic area.

Both the male and female work at excavating a nesting space; the clutch size is 3 – 10 eggs, and they may have a second brood.

A ”Cool Fact” from All About Birds about Red-headed Woodpeckers, who are about the same size as the Hairy Woodpecker, 7.5” – 9”,  is:
The Red-headed Woodpecker is one of only four North American woodpeckers known to store food, and it is the only one known to cover the stored food with wood or bark. It hides insects and seeds in cracks in wood, under bark, in fence posts, and under roof shingles. Grasshoppers are regularly stored alive, but wedged into crevices so tightly that they cannot escape.

Note that the diet of the Red-headed Woodpecker, unlike that of other woodpeckers, includes insects,  which they can catch in the air.  They will visit backyard feeders for seed, nuts, suet and fruit.

Photos for this post taken at Hagerman NWR by Dick Malnory

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