WatchList Species Account for Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Photo: USFWS

Breeding in the eastern U.S. and southern Canada, the Red-headed Woodpecker has always seemed to fluctuate between boom and bust in its population size, its high numbers coinciding with the decline of chestnut and elm and consequent abundance of dead trees for feeding and nesting, and its low numbers perhaps brought about by the decline of beech and Rocky Mountain grasshoppers.


A species of forest edge and open areas, its numbers are decreasing in the parts of the eastern U.S. being reforested - Breeding Bird Survey data show it has declined at an annual rate of 2.2% from 1966-1996. It has increased locally in some places where increasing beaver populations have created flooded forests with abundant dead trees.

 

Availability of snags for nesting and roosting is important for its conservation, as is the presence of open areas for fly-catching.