Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Distribution / Habitat

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker inhabits the southeastern United States. In the past, this bird could be found from Florida to New Jersey and Maryland, as far west as eastern Texas and Oklahoma, east to the Atlantic Ocean, and inland to Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee. But today, there exists only about one percent of the original population. Another estimate states that there are only about 5,000 groups, or 12,500 birds, from Florida to Virginia and west to southeast Oklahoma and eastern Texas. They have become locally extinct in New Jersey, Maryland, and Missouri. Its highest numbers dwell in Florida.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) - Chick being banded. The band is metal embossed with a series of numbers used to track it.

 

Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) in flightSubspecies and Ranges:

  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis borealis - Vieillot, 1809) - nominate race
    • Its range stretches patchily from southeastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas east to Atlantic coast: extends north to Kentucky and south Virginia, south to central Louisiana and southern Mississippi.
  • [Southern Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis hylonomus - Wetmore, 1941)]
    • Populations from central and southern Florida were separated on the basis of their smaller size, but since the size size decreases clinally from north to south, this race is by most considered invalid. This group is now by most included with the nominate form above.

Description

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a small to medium-sized woodpecker, slightly larger than a bluebird. It measures 18–23 cm (7.1–9.1 in) in length, has a wing span of 34–41 cm (13–16 in), and weighs 40–56 g (1.4–2.0 oz).

The plumage is black and white, except for the red cockade, or ornamental streak of red, above the cheek. The cockade is difficult to see unless the observer is up close.

The back is black and filled with white, horizontal stripes which distinguish it from other woodpeckers within its range. The cap and nape are black, and broad white feathers cover the auricular and cheek areas. There is a black moustachial stripe which extends down the sides of the neck and a white spot behind the eyes. Its ventral plumage is white or somewhat gray, and the sides of the breast area display visible black spots.

The tail is black, and the outer rectrices are barred with white. White stripes adorn the black wing coverts and flight feathers.

Avianweb Species Page

Species image
Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Bill Shape
all-purpose
dagger
Eats
suet
Regions
alabama
arkansas
florida
georgia
illinois
kentucky
louisiana
maryland
mississippi
missouri
new jersey
north carolina
ohio
oklahoma
south carolina
tennessee
texas
virginia
Tail Shape
fan-shaped-tail
Wing Shape
pointed-wings
Habitat
Forests
Color
black
white
Body Shape
tree-clinging
Size
small
Order
woodpeckers, barbets, toucans, honeyguides - piciformes
woodpeckers and allies - picidae
Conservation Status
Vulnerable