Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis)

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

[order] PICIFORMES | [family] Picidae | [latin] Picoides borealis | [UK] Red-cockaded Woodpecker | [FR] Pic breal | [DE] Kokardenspecht | [ES] Pico de Florida | [NL] Kokarde-specht


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

i Zebra-backed, with a i black cap. The i white cheek is an obvious field mark. The tiny red cockade of the male is hard to see.

Listen to the sound of Red-cockaded Woodpecker

[audio: Woodpecker.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

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North America : Southeast USA


Open pine woodland Ideal habitat is mature pine woods (trees 80-
100 or more years old), with very open understory maintained by frequent fires (the pines are fire-resistant). Most common in longleaf pine, but inhabits other pines as well, rarely cypress adjacent to pine woods.


Taking part in nesting are the breeding pair plus 1-4 additional “helpers.” These helpers are mostly males (70-95 percent of those studied) and mostly the breeding pair’s offspring from previous seasons.
b Nest: Preferred sites are cavities excavated in large live pines infected with red heart fungus (which gives the tree a soft center inside a solid outer shell). Cavity usually 30-
40′ above ground, can be much lower or higher (to well above 100′). Entrance surrounded by tiny holes from which sticky resin oozes out, protecting nest from climbing predators. No nest material other than wood chips in cavity.
b Eggs: 3-4, sometimes 2-5. White. Incubation is by both parents and to some extent by additional helpers; breeding male is on nest at night. Incubation period notably short, about 10-11 days.
b Young: Are fed by both parents and by helpers. Young leave nest at about 26-29 days. 1 brood per year, rarely 2.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects. Feeds mainly on insects and other arthropods, especially ants and beetles, also termites, roaches, centipedes, and others. Also eats some wild fruits and pine seeds.
b Behavior: Forages mainly on pine trunks and branches, flaking off bits of bark in search of insects underneath. Family groups may forage together, males tending to forage on branches and upper trunk, females on lower trunk.


This species qualifies as Vulnerable because remaining populations are small and declining. However, recent data suggests that the population size is now above the threshold for Vulnerable and population trends have reversed, and should this be confirmed the species may warrant downlisting in the future.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker status Vulnerable


Southeastern United States. Very local resident within dash line.
bMigration: Generally permanent resident; may wander some distance, perhaps after habitat destruction. Young females often disperse farther away from birthplace than young males.

Distribution map

Red-cockaded Woodpecker distribution range map

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