Red-bellied Woodpecker

photo by Lisa Comer

In Alabama during: Fall | Spring | Summer | Winter

SCIENTIFIC NAME:Melanerpes carolinus

STATUS: Breeder. Common in all seasons and regions. Lowest Conservation Concern.

DESCRIPTION: The most common woodpecker in the southeast, the red-bellied woodpecker is about nine to ten inches tall with a wingspan of 13 to 17 inches. As its name indicates, the belly is a light red or pinkish color. The red belly is often hidden from view as the bird perches or feeds against a tree trunk. Males are easily identifiable by the red coloration on the top of the head and neck. Females lack the red coloration on their head. The back is prominently striped horizontally with black and white barring. A white patch at the base of the primary feathers is highly visible in flight.
Males have a longer bill and a longer, wider tongue than females. These physical differences may allow the male to reach deeper into furrows to obtain food items. Researchers suggest these slight physical differences are an adaptation to allow the sexes to divide up the resources in one area.
The red-headed woodpecker, a similar species, has red on the entire head, neck, face, and throat and has bold black and white patches on the back. The red-headed woodpecker lacks the horizontal barring on the back of the red-bellied woodpecker.


Learn more from the Dept of Conservation
Learn more from Cornell’s All About Birds