A Red-headed Woodpecker Winter

As I came down the driveway, back home from the walk, I heard the chattering rattles of “our” Red-headed Woodpecker in the area where it so often seems to be – in the oaks that spread below the end of our driveway and up a slope to the edge of our neighbor’s yard. 

The woodpecker was clinging to the side of a large pecan tree at the corner of our neighbor’s house where I have watched it several times. Its brilliant, flashy colors stood out so brightly that I realized the young woodpecker now seems to be almost completely in mature plumage. When I first saw it, it was rather brownish all over, with a totally brown head. Its head now looks almost completely bright red, with just a little brown still showing around the edges. With its snow-white breast and panels in the wings, and its black back and wings – it is stunning.

I watched as it did something in this pecan tree – perhaps storing more food there, though I wasn’t sure. Then it flew – calling its loose rattle as it did – back to the trees below our driveway. And for a few minutes, I watched as it flew back and forth among the nearby trees. It called frequently – very vocal! But I wasn’t able to see it well enough to see exactly what it was doing in each tree. 

We’ve been very lucky to have this young Red-headed Woodpecker spend the winter season in trees so close around our home. And not only is this one special enough – but I’ve also heard the calls of Red-headed Woodpeckers from at least two other locations behind homes on our road, fairly widely spaced. In both of these areas, there are lots of trees and wooded spaces, in areas that slope down to a creek. Because they are pretty far back away from the road, I have not seen any of the others – but I hear their calls almost every time I walk along this road – and have been able to confirm this with Merlin.So this winter here in Summit Grove seems to be a rare Red-headed Woodpecker winter!

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