Monday, September 17, 2012

Red-headed Woodpecker


I have previously posted photos of adult Red-headed Woodpeckers on this blog. A good place to find this striking woodpecker is Nerstrand Big Woods State Park near Northfield. I have never, however, seen this bird at my banding station in Northfield and nor have I banded one during my career as a bander. I hardly recognized this juvenal Red-headed Woodpecker--no red head! The bright white wing patches, however, were a significant field mark. If you you closely at these photographs, you will notice a single red feather in the woodpecker's crown.

According to Smith et al. (2000), surprisingly few intensive studies exist of this conspicuous, if relatively uncommon, woodpecker. Few banding studies have been attempted. Do the sexes differ ecologically? No data on growth or development of the young have been gathered. The role of the European Starling in the decline of the Red-headed Woodpecker has not been proven and may not be true. Smith and her coauthors conclude "certainly this species' habit of nesting in dead branches in precarious places has hindered breeding studies..."

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