Red-Headed Woodpeckers Are Birds To See and Hear

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

Woodpeckers are a bird with a perfect name, because they are known for pecking wood. And red-headed woodpeckers are even more perfectly named, because they have bright red heads.

Photo courtesy of Barb Parisi

Red-headed woodpeckers like trees, but they don’t live in forests. Instead, they live in open areas like farms and orchards.


Here’s more information about these colorful and sometimes noisy birds.


Fun facts


  • Only adult red-headed woodpeckers have red heads. The younger birds have brown heads. The young birds’ heads turn fully red by the time they are 2 years old.

  • For many kinds of birds, males and females look different. However, all adult red-headed woodpeckers look the same.

  • Red-headed woodpeckers are omnivores, which means they eat plants and animals. They eat spiders, insects, fruits, nuts, seeds and bark.

  • Red-headed woodpeckers use their beaks for many purposes. They drill into wood to build nests and shelters. They sometimes drill into wood to look for food. They also drum on wood and metal to attract mates.

  • Red-headed woodpeckers have existed for millions of years. Fossils from 2 million years ago have been found in Illinois, Virginia and Florida.

  • These birds can be mean to other birds. They sometimes destroy other birds’ nests and remove eggs from nests.

  • Red-headed woodpeckers build nests in holes in tree trunks and limbs. They peck dead wood with their beaks to build new holes.

  • The red-headed woodpecker is one of 22 kinds of woodpeckers in the United States. There are more than 300 different kinds of woodpeckers in the world.