The animal I would like to talk about this week is the red headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus). This woodpecker is seven to nine inches tall.
These birds can be identified by their distinct red head and neck. As for the rest of their body, they have black wings and tail while the back of the wings and underparts are white. The males and females look alike.
These birds nest in cavities in barkless trees trunks or limbs. Fence posts or utility poles are also used in treeless regions. The male can take up to two weeks to excavate a nest hole. Three to ten eggs are laid and both parents incubate the eggs for 12 to 14 days.
After the eggs hatch both parents feed the young. As the young get older most of the work is handled by the female. The male begins another nest hole for a second brood in late summer.
Food sources are varied. Not only do these woodpeckers not excavate for insects but they are good hunters.
Flying prey is plucked out of the air. Prey is also dropped down on from a perch in the trees. Food sources include mice, eggs young birds and insects. In the winter harvested grains, nuts and fruits are eaten. Food is also stored in cracks and crevices and sealed over with wood chips or twigs.
The red headed woodpecker is becoming fewer in numbers because of the starlings invading their habitat. Get out there and enjoy these beautiful birds as well as your world. You will find something fascinating!
Boise City News