Red-headed Woodpecker

While walking past a wooded yard of mostly hardwoods, along the lowest part of the road near a creek, I heard the rolling, churry calls of a Red-headed Woodpecker. I first discovered it here much earlier in the month, December 4. Even before that, I’d been hearing its calls for a couple of weeks or more, but had not been able to see it, and so I wasn’t sure. But this time I was finally able to get a good look. It was a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker – with brown head, a white breast with blurry streaks, and black wings with broad white wing patches marked with some black. It was very vocal and active, calling often as it flew from tree to tree and back again in the same area, and returning again and again to one particular slender, broken-off, standing dead oak that was riddled with woodpecker holes and peeling bark.

Since that day early in the month, though I haven’t been out often, almost every time I’ve come by this spot, the juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker has been here, calling and flying restlessly from tree to tree. Once I watched as a Northern Flicker flew from across the road into the area of trees around the standing dead oak – and a very agitated Red-headed Woodpecker immediately chased it away.

Today, though I could hear its rolling chortle and could tell it was moving around from tree to tree, I could not spot it, mostly because of the gray light and also because it seemed to be close to the house and I don’t like to point binoculars or stare directly at neighbors’ homes for too long. So after a few minutes of just listening and watching for its movement, I walked on, deciding it was nice enough to know that it’s here.

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