Spotting the Majestic Red-Headed Woodpecker in Maine: A Bird Watcher’s Guide

red headed woodpecker maine

The red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) is a striking bird species known for its vibrant red head and contrasting black and white plumage. Native to North America, including the state of Maine, this woodpecker species holds a unique place in the region’s avian population.

Understanding the habitat and distribution of red-headed woodpeckers in Maine is essential. These woodpeckers have a relatively limited range within the state, primarily found in the southern and central parts. They prefer a variety of habitats, including open woodlands, savannas, orchards, and parks. The range of red-headed woodpeckers in Maine is influenced by factors such as the availability of suitable nesting and foraging sites, as well as the presence of dead trees for cavity nesting.

In terms of physical characteristics, red-headed woodpeckers display a distinctive appearance. As the name suggests, they have a bright red head, while their body feathers are a mix of black and white. They also exhibit unique behaviors and feeding habits, making them fascinating to observe. Red-headed woodpeckers are omnivorous, with their diet consisting of insects, fruits, nuts, and occasionally bird eggs. They are known for their strong foraging skills, including catching insects mid-air and storing food in crevices or tree bark for later consumption.

However, the status and conservation of red-headed woodpeckers in Maine warrant attention. Although not currently listed as endangered in the state, their populations have shown declines over the years due to various factors, including habitat loss and competition for nest sites. Conservation efforts are in place to safeguard their habitats, educate the public, and raise awareness about protecting this iconic bird species in Maine.

Key takeaway:

  • Red-Headed Woodpeckers have striking physical characteristics: They have red plumage on their head and white underparts, making them easily recognizable.
  • Red-Headed Woodpeckers prefer wooded habitats in Maine: They can be found in a variety of wooded areas, including forests, woodlands, and forest edges.
  • Red-Headed Woodpeckers have diverse feeding habits and diet: They feed on insects, fruits, nuts, and seeds, and are known for their ability to catch insects in mid-air.

About the Red-Headed Woodpecker

The Red-Headed Woodpecker is a distinctive bird species found in Maine and various other regions. Here are some key details about this woodpecker:

  • Appearance: The Red-Headed Woodpecker is known for its striking plumage. It has a solid red head, a black back and wings, and a white belly. Its wings feature large white patches that are visible during flight.
  • Habitat: These woodpeckers can be found in a variety of habitats, including deciduous forests, open woodlands, orchards, and parks. In Maine, they are commonly seen in areas with a mix of trees and open spaces.
  • Range: While the Red-Headed Woodpecker’s range extends beyond Maine, it is considered a year-round resident in the state. Their numbers may vary in different regions due to habitat availability.
  • Behavior: Red-Headed Woodpeckers are known for their acrobatic flight and ability to cling to vertical surfaces. They use their strong beaks to drum on trees and search for food, which primarily consists of insects, nuts, seeds, and berries.
  • Conservation Status: The Red-Headed Woodpecker is listed as a species of concern in some regions. Loss of suitable habitat, nest competition with other woodpeckers, and pesticide use are among the factors contributing to population decline.
  • Conservation Efforts: Various organizations and bird conservation groups are working to protect the Red-Headed Woodpecker and its habitat. These efforts include habitat restoration, public awareness campaigns, and monitoring population trends.

Observing the Red-Headed Woodpecker in Maine can be a rewarding experience for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. It is important to respect their natural habitat and contribute to conservation efforts to ensure their long-term survival.

What Does a Red-Headed Woodpecker Look Like?

The Red-Headed Woodpecker, with distinct physical features, is a striking bird that showcases its vibrant red head, neck, and throat. These bold colors contrast sharply with its deep black wings, back, and tail. Furthermore, the woodpecker’s bold coloration is even more accentuated by the white patches on its wings and lower body. In terms of size, the adult Red-Headed Woodpecker measures approximately 7.5 to 9.5 inches in length, boasting a wingspan of about 16 to 17 inches.

This woodpecker possesses a sturdy build and is equipped with a short, chisel-like bill, perfectly adapted for drilling into tree trunks in search of insects. Its legs and feet are also incredibly strong, allowing it to cling tightly to vertical surfaces. When it comes to plumage, both male and female Red-Headed Woodpeckers have similar appearances, making them indistinguishable based on looks alone.

However, a distinct change in coloration can be observed in juvenile Red-Headed Woodpeckers. They start with a brownish head, which gradually transitions to red as they mature. Additionally, their plumage exhibits less contrast and may appear mottled.

Thanks to its distinctive appearance, the Red-Headed Woodpecker is relatively easy to identify. Its vibrant red head, along with its black and white body and robust build, makes it stand out from other woodpecker species. By recognizing these distinct features, birdwatchers can effortlessly spot and appreciate the exquisite beauty of the Red-Headed Woodpecker in its natural habitat.

Habitat and Distribution of Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Maine

The Red-Headed Woodpecker is a species of woodpecker that can be found in Maine. Here is information about their habitat and distribution in the state:


The Red-Headed Woodpecker prefers open woodlands, forest edges, and areas with scattered trees. They are also commonly found in orchards, parks, and suburban areas with mature trees. These woodpeckers require a mix of open spaces for foraging and trees for nesting and roosting.


In Maine, the Red-Headed Woodpecker is primarily found in the southern and central parts of the state. They can also be spotted in some coastal areas. While their numbers have declined in certain regions, they are still present in suitable habitats throughout Maine.


The Red-Headed Woodpecker is known for its striking appearance, with a red head, black body, and white underparts. They are skilled foragers and feed on a variety of insects, fruits, nuts, and seeds. These woodpeckers are also known for their unique behavior of catching insects in mid-air.


Red-Headed Woodpeckers typically excavate their nests in dead trees or snags, using their strong bills to create cavities. They may also use artificial nest boxes. Breeding pairs engage in courtship displays and both parents participate in incubating the eggs and feeding the young.


While the Red-Headed Woodpecker is not currently listed as endangered or threatened, their populations have declined in some areas due to habitat loss and changes in land use. Conservation efforts focused on preserving suitable habitats and protecting nesting sites are important for the long-term survival of this species in Maine.

What is the Range of Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Maine?

The range of Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Maine extends throughout the state, covering a significant portion of its territory. These woodpeckers can be found in various habitats, including forests, woodlands, and even suburban areas with suitable trees for nesting and feeding. They are not limited to specific regions or areas within Maine, but rather have a relatively broad distribution across the state.

Red-Headed Woodpeckers are known to be adaptable and can thrive in different types of environments. They are often seen in deciduous forests, where there is an abundance of dead trees for nesting and foraging. They can also be found in coniferous forests, open woodlands, and areas near water bodies, such as rivers and lakes.

It should be noted that the presence of Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Maine may vary from year to year due to factors such as habitat availability and food availability. Therefore, their exact range within the state can fluctuate over time.

To increase your chances of spotting these beautiful woodpeckers in Maine, try visiting wooded areas with a mix of mature trees and open spaces. Keep an eye out for their distinct plumage, with a vibrant red head and black and white body. Patience and a pair of binoculars can go a long way in spotting these elusive birds in their natural habitat.

What Type of Habitat do Red-Headed Woodpeckers Prefer in Maine?

Red-Headed Woodpeckers prefer a specific type of habitat in Maine. In Maine, what type of habitat do Red-Headed Woodpeckers prefer? They are commonly found in open woodlands, particularly those with a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees. They favor areas with large, mature trees that offer suitable nesting cavities. These woodpeckers are also attracted to areas with an abundance of dead or dying trees, as these provide a valuable source of food and nesting sites.

In Maine, Red-Headed Woodpeckers can be found in various types of habitats, including forests, woodlots, and even suburban areas with scattered trees. They are often seen near open areas such as meadows, fields, or wetlands, as these offer opportunities for foraging and hunting for insects.

It is important to note that the availability of suitable habitat can influence the population and distribution of Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Maine. In areas where their preferred habitat is limited or fragmented, their numbers may be lower. Therefore, conservation efforts should focus on preserving and restoring suitable habitat to support the population of these woodpeckers.

By understanding what type of habitat Red-Headed Woodpeckers prefer in Maine, conservationists and land managers can make informed decisions to protect and enhance these habitats, ensuring the long-term survival of this unique species.

Physical Characteristics of Red-Headed Woodpeckers

The Red-Headed Woodpeckers found in Maine possess the following physical characteristics:

  • Distinctive Red Head: As their name suggests, Red-Headed Woodpeckers have a vibrant red head, extending from the crown to the nape.
  • Black and White Plumage: Their body plumage is predominantly black, with a large white patch on the belly and white secondary wing feathers, creating a striking contrast.
  • White Neck and Throat: The neck and throat of Red-Headed Woodpeckers are white, providing a sharp contrast against the black plumage.
  • Medium-Sized: These woodpeckers measure approximately 7.5 to 9.25 inches (19 to 23.5 cm) in length, making them medium-sized woodpeckers.
  • Strong Bill: Red-Headed Woodpeckers have a stout, chisel-like bill that is adapted for drilling into wood to find food and create nesting cavities.
  • Short Tail: They have a relatively short tail compared to other woodpecker species.
  • Wings with White Patches: When in flight, the Red-Headed Woodpecker’s wings display prominent white patches, visible both from above and below.
  • Distinctive Calls: Red-Headed Woodpeckers have a variety of calls, including a sharp “wick-a-wick-a-wick” and a rolling “kwee-urk” sound.

These physical characteristics of Red-Headed Woodpeckers make them easily recognizable and a delightful sight for birdwatchers in Maine.

What Does a Red-Headed Woodpecker Look Like?

The Red-Headed Woodpecker is a striking bird with distinct features. What Does a Red-Headed Woodpecker Look Like? It has a vibrant red head and neck, which contrasts with its black wings and back. The white underside of its body adds to its eye-catching appearance. This woodpecker has a medium-sized body, measuring between 7 and 9 inches long, with a wingspan of about 16 to 17 inches. Its beak is strong and pointed, perfectly designed for drilling into tree bark to find insects.

The male and female Red-Headed Woodpeckers have similar appearances, making it challenging to differentiate between the sexes based on looks alone. Juveniles can be identified by their lack of a fully red head, which gradually changes as they mature.

These woodpeckers are known for their distinct and beautiful appearance, making them a delight to observe in their natural habitats. They can be found in wooded areas, forests, and parks throughout North America, including Maine.

Historically, the Red-Headed Woodpecker population faced habitat loss due to deforestation and the destruction of dead trees, which they rely on for nesting sites. Conservation efforts and the protection of their habitats have helped stabilize their numbers. There is still work to be done to ensure the long-term survival of these magnificent birds, but actions such as reforestation and preservation of dead trees can greatly benefit their populations. By raising awareness about the Red-Headed Woodpecker’s appearance and conservation needs, we can work towards protecting this species for future generations to enjoy.

Behavior and Diet of Red-Headed Woodpeckers

The behavior and diet of Red-Headed Woodpeckers are as follows:


  • Drumming: Red-Headed Woodpeckers are known for their distinctive drumming behavior. They use their bill to rapidly and loudly strike against trees or other resonant objects to communicate and establish territories.
  • Flight: These woodpeckers have a strong and direct flight pattern. They can fly swiftly between trees and exhibit agile aerial maneuvers.
  • Caching: Red-Headed Woodpeckers are known for their habit of caching food. They store surplus food, such as acorns or insects, in tree crevices or other hiding spots for later consumption.
  • Aggression: Red-Headed Woodpeckers can be territorial and exhibit aggressive behavior towards other birds or animals that encroach upon their nesting sites or foraging areas.
  • Communication: They use various vocalizations, including calls and drumming, to communicate with other woodpeckers and defend their territory.


  • Insects: Red-Headed Woodpeckers primarily feed on insects such as beetles, ants, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. They locate these insects by probing and pecking at tree bark or by catching them in mid-air.
  • Acorns and Nuts: They also consume acorns, nuts, and seeds, and are known to store them in tree crevices or bury them in the ground for future consumption.
  • Fruits and Berries: Red-Headed Woodpeckers supplement their diet with various fruits and berries, especially during the breeding season when they require additional energy.
  • Sap: They may also feed on tree sap by drilling holes in the bark and lapping up the sweet liquid.

The behavior and diet of Red-Headed Woodpeckers demonstrate their adaptability and resourcefulness in finding food sources within their habitat.

How Do Red-Headed Woodpeckers Feed and What Do They Eat?

  • Red-headed woodpeckers feed primarily on insects, including beetles, ants, and caterpillars.
  • They also eat fruits, nuts, and seeds, including acorns and hickory nuts.
  • Red-headed woodpeckers are known to catch flying insects in mid-air and may also probe the bark of trees to find hidden insects.

Red-headed woodpeckers have a diverse diet that includes insects, fruits, nuts, and seeds. They are skilled at catching flying insects while also searching for hidden insects by probing tree bark.

In addition to insects, red-headed woodpeckers store food in tree crevices or holes they have drilled. This behavior allows them to have a reserve of food during times when prey may be scarce.

It is important to note that the diet of red-headed woodpeckers varies depending on the season and availability of prey. During colder months when insects are less abundant, they rely more on stored food and also consume suet, seeds, and berries from bird feeders.

If you want to attract red-headed woodpeckers to your backyard, providing a variety of food sources is essential. Consider setting up suet feeders, nut and seed feeders, and planting fruit-bearing trees or shrubs. Additionally, creating a diverse habitat with dead trees or snags can offer nesting sites and foraging opportunities for these stunning birds.

What Are the Nesting and Breeding Habits of Red-Headed Woodpeckers?

The nesting and breeding habits of Red-Headed Woodpeckers are fascinating to observe. These remarkable woodpeckers are active nesters, known for excavating their own nest cavities in dead trees or limbs. However, they are also opportunistic nesters and may utilize existing cavities, utility poles, and fence posts. The entrance hole of their nests is typically round and approximately 2 inches in diameter.

Red-Headed Woodpeckers are monogamous birds that form lifelong pairs. Their mating season usually begins in late spring or early summer, during which they engage in courtship displays to strengthen their bond. The male woodpecker utilizes rapid drumming to attract the female and showcases his vibrant red head and black and white body through aerial displays. Once a pair is formed, they collaborate in nest-building and raising their young.

The female Red-Headed Woodpecker lays a clutch of 4-7 eggs, with each egg being laid a day apart. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs, which typically hatch after about 12-14 days. Additionally, both parents actively participate in feeding the nestlings by regurgitating insects and fruits until the young are ready to fledge, which usually occurs after 28-30 days.

These nesting and breeding habits of Red-Headed Woodpeckers demonstrate their remarkable commitment to raising their young and ensuring the survival of their species. Observing their nesting behaviors and witnessing the growth of their adorable nestlings is truly a delight.

Status and Conservation of Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Maine

The Red-Headed Woodpecker is a species of woodpecker found in Maine. Here is an overview of its status and conservation efforts in the region:

Current Status:

The Red-Headed Woodpecker population in Maine has experienced a decline over the years. It is now considered a species of conservation concern in the state.


The woodpeckers prefer open woodlands, savannas, and areas with scattered trees. They rely on tree cavities for nesting and foraging.


The decline of Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Maine can be attributed to several factors, including habitat loss due to deforestation, fragmentation of forests, and the removal of dead or dying trees which provide nesting sites.

Conservation Efforts:

To protect and conserve the Red-Headed Woodpecker population in Maine, several initiatives have been undertaken:

  1. Habitat Restoration: Efforts are being made to restore and enhance suitable habitat for the woodpeckers by planting native trees, creating snags, and managing forests in a way that benefits their nesting and foraging requirements.
  2. Public Awareness: Educating the public about the importance of conserving the Red-Headed Woodpecker and its habitat is crucial. Initiatives such as workshops, birding events, and educational programs are being conducted to raise awareness.
  3. Research and Monitoring: Ongoing research and monitoring projects help gather data on the population size, distribution, and behavior of the woodpeckers. This information aids in developing effective conservation strategies.
  4. Collaboration: Collaboration between government agencies, conservation organizations, researchers, and local communities is essential for implementing comprehensive conservation measures and coordinating conservation efforts.

By focusing on habitat preservation, public awareness, research, and collaboration, conservation efforts aim to reverse the decline of Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Maine and ensure the long-term survival of this iconic species.

Are Red-Headed Woodpeckers Endangered in Maine?

Red-headed Woodpeckers are not endangered in Maine. According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the population of Red-headed Woodpeckers in the state is stable. Although their numbers have declined in some areas due to habitat loss and competition with other species, they are not considered endangered or at risk of extinction.

Conservation efforts have been implemented to protect the habitat of Red-headed Woodpeckers and promote their population growth. These efforts include habitat restoration projects, such as creating suitable nesting sites and conserving large tracts of forests to provide food and shelter for the woodpeckers. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife conducts monitoring programs to track the population trends of this species and ensure their long-term survival.

It is important to continue these conservation efforts to maintain stable populations of Red-headed Woodpeckers in Maine. Protecting their habitat and promoting biodiversity benefits not only these woodpeckers but also numerous other plant and animal species that depend on healthy ecosystems.

Red-headed Woodpeckers are not endangered in Maine, thanks to conservation efforts and proper habitat management. By continuing to protect their habitat, we can ensure the presence of these beautiful birds for future generations to enjoy.

What Conservation Efforts are being made for Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Maine?

Conservation efforts are currently underway in Maine to protect and preserve the red-headed woodpeckers and their habitat. These efforts are aimed at ensuring the thriving population of these birds in the state.

1. Habitat preservation: The primary focus of the conservation efforts is to safeguard and maintain the specific habitats favored by red-headed woodpeckers. This involves the careful preservation of suitable nesting trees and ensuring the availability of appropriate food sources.

2. Forest management practices: To create and sustain the ideal habitat for red-headed woodpeckers, effective forest management techniques are being implemented. These practices include selectively thinning forests to improve their foraging opportunities and promoting the growth of the preferred tree species.

3. Nest box programs: In order to enhance nesting opportunities, the conservation initiatives have established nest box programs. These programs provide artificial nesting sites that mimic the natural tree cavities red-headed woodpeckers use for nesting. This promotes successful breeding and supports population growth.

4. Education and awareness: The conservation efforts also involve educating the public about the significance of protecting red-headed woodpeckers and their habitat. By encouraging people to appreciate and respect these birds, we can actively contribute to their conservation.

5. Monitoring and research: Regular monitoring and research are conducted to track the population status and behavior of red-headed woodpeckers in Maine. This critical information helps guide conservation strategies and ensures the ongoing efforts are effective.

These conservation efforts play a vital role in securing the future of red-headed woodpeckers in Maine. By preserving their habitat, providing nesting opportunities, and raising awareness, we can contribute to the long-term survival and well-being of these beautiful birds.

Remember, everyone can play a part in conservation, whether it’s supporting local conservation organizations or making small changes to protect and preserve natural habitats. Together, we can make a difference and ensure the continued presence of red-headed woodpeckers in Maine.

Some Facts About Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Maine:

  • ✅ Red-Headed Woodpeckers are native to Maine. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ Red-Headed Woodpeckers are known for their vibrant red heads and contrasting black and white plumage. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ Red-Headed Woodpeckers have a triangular crest on the back of their heads. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ Red-Headed Woodpeckers can be found in both hardwood and conifer forests in Maine. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ Red-Headed Woodpeckers drill rectangular-shaped holes in rotten wood to find insects to feed on. (Source: Our Team)

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the identifying characteristics of the Black-backed Woodpecker in Maine?

The Black-backed Woodpecker in Maine has a black back and white underparts. It is often found in burned or recently disturbed forests and feeds on insects and larvae.

What are some fun facts about the Pileated Woodpecker in Maine?

The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the biggest and most striking forest birds found in Maine. It has black and white stripes, a flaming-red crest, long neck, and triangular crest on the back of its head. Males have a red stripe on their cheeks, while females have none. They drill rectangular-shaped holes in rotten wood to find carpenter ants and other wood-dwelling insects.

Where can Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers be found in Maine?

Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers are often found in hardwood and conifer forests in Maine. They nest in groves of small trees like aspens and can be seen lapping up leaking sap and trapped insects from tree trunks with their brush-tipped tongue.

What are the identifying characteristics of the Downy Woodpecker in Maine?

The Downy Woodpecker in Maine is the smallest species of woodpeckers, mostly black and white with small bills. Males have a small red patch on the back of their heads. They can be found in open woodlands, orchards, city parks, backyards, and vacant lots, where they feed on galls and make shrill whinnying calls.

How do Pileated Woodpeckers feed in Maine?

Pileated Woodpeckers in Maine feed by drilling rectangular-shaped holes in rotten wood to find carpenter ants and other wood-dwelling insects. They have a chisel-like beak that allows them to access their prey in the decaying wood.

Where can the Northern Flicker woodpecker be found in Maine?

The Northern Flicker woodpecker can be found in woodlands, wetlands, and built-up areas in Maine. They are often seen at bird feeders and have gray-brown plumage with a yellow flash when in flight.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.