Often times, people tell me that they saw a red-headed woodpecker in their backyard when talking about birds. Well, there are three species of woodpecker in central Florida that have a lot of red colored feathers on their head The true red-headed woodpecker has a completely red head on all sides and all of the way around the eye. The rest of the body is a two-tone white and black pattern.
Red-headed woodpeckers are becoming rarer in Florida as they are driven out by development. They require mature, old-growth pine trees for their habitat, so they’re more commonly found in parks and more rural areas with older trees. They primarily feed on insects and seeds.
The bird most commonly confused with the red-headed woodpecker is the red-bellied woodpecker. Red-bellied woodpeckers have a red “mohawk” on the top of the head, but the red coloration doesn’t encompass the entire head. Red-bellied woodpeckers are very common backyard birds. They will often come to bird feeders to eat seeds and will drill holes wherever they can to make their dens. The male red-bellied woodpecker will have a full “mohawk” of red feathers on top of the head, whereas the female will have half a “mohawk” of red.
The last of the Florida woodpeckers to be confused with the red-headed woodpecker is the pileated woodpecker. The pileated woodpecker is a much larger woodpecker than the red-headed one. Pileated woodpeckers have a triangular shaped head and a white and black face with a red “mustache” of feathers. Most of the body of a pileated woodpecker is comprised of black feathers, but it’s the shear size of the pileated woodpecker that separates it easily from being confused with the red-headed woodpecker.
Grab those binoculars or a camera and see if you can find all three in your neighborhood today!