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Redheaded Woodpecker's Nesting Habits

By Ben Team

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Redheaded woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) are medium-size woodpeckers who live throughout the eastern United States. While many woodpecker species have some red feathers on their head and are colloquially called “redheaded woodpeckers,” true redheaded woodpeckers' heads are entirely covered in deep red to crimson feathers. Inhabiting open woodlands, redheaded woodpeckers depend on mature forests for nesting.

Nesting Habits

Redheaded woodpeckers are cavity nesters; they seek out dead or dying trees -- most often hardwoods -- in which to construct their nests. While both sexes participate in the process, the male is responsible for most of the excavation. Starting with a crack or weakness in the wood, he will start hammering it with his strong, chisel-like beak. It can take more than two weeks to complete the nest, which will have a 2-inch entrance hole leading to a cavity 3 or 4 inches across and 8 to 16 inches deep. Shortly after finishing construction, the female will deposit three to 10 eggs in the nest. Both the mother and father participate in incubation, and the eggs hatch in about two weeks. The young are altricial, and are fed by both parents for about one month before they leave the nest.

Photo Credits

  • John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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