Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Picoides borealis
Family: Picidae

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a small woodpecker with a conspicuous large white cheek patch, black and white cross-barred back, black cap and nape, white with black spots on breast and flanks, and the male has a small bright red spot on each side of the black cap. This bird is approximately 8 1/2" in length with a wingspread of 14 1/2". The female is somewhat smaller, but resembles the male in colour, with the exception of the red streak alongside the black cap. The length of the female is 7 3/8" with a wingspread of 13 1/4".

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker is an endangered species in all of the United States due to the it's dependence for nesting on southern pines which have been afflicted with fungus disease or red-ring rot.

These birds generally live in open pine woods. It glides upwards and sidewise along the trunks and branches, on the lower as well as the upper side, moving with astonishing alertness, and at every motion looking for insects and pine seeds.


The song of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker is very similar to the nuthatches, yank-yank or a very distinctive sripp. When gliding upwards on trees, it emits a short, shrill and clear note, which can be heard at a distance.


East Texas to southeastern US and Southern Florida. Once found abundantly from Texas to New Jersey, and inland as far as Tennessee.


Both mated birds drill the nest cavity of a living pine. The entrance hole is about 2" in diameter and anywhere between 8-12" deep and anywhere from 12-60 feet above ground. During the months of April and May, approximately 3-4 eggs are laid which are smooth and pure white. Incubation is by both sexes, the male at night, which lasts approximately 12-14 days with the first young leaving the nest in 24-29 days after hatching. The young, like those of our other species, crawl out of their holes, and on the branches, waiting for the food brought by their parents. After the young are grown, the family remains together throughout fall and early winter.

Natural Feeding Habits:

The Red-cockaded Woodpeckers diet includes approximatley 85% of insects such as ants, caterpillars, moths, grasshoppers, spiders, and beetle larvae. The rest of the diet consists of wild grapes, cherries, poison ivy berries, blueberries, and nuts such as pecans. They also extract worms from ears of ripening corn.

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