Friday, July 5, 2013

Red-bellied Woodpecker, the Orange Juice Woodpecker!

Red-bellied Woodpeckers love oranges! 

 You can nail an orange to a tree, or place it in a suet cage and Red-bellies may come visit, dipping their bills into the juicy pulp.

 They nest in cavities such as tree holes or birdhouses

 One might show up at your bird feeder if you stock it with sunflower seeds

Red-bellied Woodpeckers could be called the orange juice woodpecker since they seem so fond of orange halves. When we are in FL, it's easy to attract them by putting out oranges on a tree or other container. At your bird feeder you can attract them with sunflower seeds, nuts and suet.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers can excavate a nest hole in a living tree, or excavate in a tree that has recently died. They will also nest in a birdhouse with the right dimensions. As part of courtship, male and female mutually tap on a tree, with one inside a potential nest hole, the other outside. We have seen this a number of time in Florida and it's fun to watch. They lay 3-8 white eggs, incubate them for 12-14 days, then the nestlings will fledge at 25-30 days.

Here in NH, a Red-bellied Woodpecker is an uncommon sight and we only see them several times a year.

However, Red-bellied Woodpeckers seem to be making more incursions into NH and other areas even up into Nova Scotia. It is believed that Red-bellied Woodpeckers are undergoing a range expansion to the north and west. They breed over much of the eastern half of the country and are thick in the Southeast, but have not been that common in the far upper Midwest, or northern New England or the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Maybe that is about to change. 

Hope you get to see them in your area soon.

Lillian Stokes 


  1. Now this would be quite the excitement here in Southern Arizona as well. If I put oranges out right now, I'll get ants:) Maybe an oriole or a verdin. Wonderful pics and great info!

  2. I've had a pair at my feeders since I put them up in early april. They eat sunflower seed and I've added a peanut feeder in June. Both are squirrel proof Brome feeders that close by weight. I had the feeders set light, to exclude the local starling gang, but the red belly wood peckers still figured out how to get the seeds out with their strong beaks. I love the tip about oranges, my empty suet cages have a new calling.

    Doug in Austin, TX

  3. It's always a pleasure to see Red-bellied Woodpeckers at our feeders. Fortunately, we spot them quite often! I was not aware that they love oranges. Fantastic photographs of these cool birds!