Conservation The Red-headed Woodpecker is listed as a vulnerable species in Canada and is listed on multiple state threatened species lists in the United States. Habitat should be managed so as to provide large forest fragments (2 ha) with large snags for nesting and open areas for catching flying insects. In addition, selective thinning has been shown to increase the likelihood of occurrence and nesting in Ohio. Controlled fires have negative and positive impacts. While they open up the forest (providing open space for fly catching) and create snags, they can also destroy existing snags used for nesting. The Red-headed Woodpecker is listed as a priority species in Partners in Flight's Bird Conservation Plan for the Upper Great Lakes Plain One of the objectives of this plan is to increase Red-headed Woodpeckers by 3% per year in USFWS Region 3 from 1980-2010 as measured by the Breeding Bird Survey.
I felt even luckier when Handbook of the Birds of the World chose to publish this photo. Yet, although my cover letter described the circumstances, the eventual HBW text read: Courtship displays of woodpeckers feature many elements that are used when showing aggression. The crown feathers are erected, the head raised and the wings drooped. Mate-feeding has been observed as part of the courtship ritual of only a few picid species, among them two Dinopium and two Melanerpes, but has only rarely been reported for the White-naped Woodpecker. Here, the red-crowned male of the latter has just presented his yellow-crowned mate with a beetle larva (Vol. 7 at p. 376).
Acorn Woodpecker breeds cooperatively in communal groups featuring one or two lead males, a harem of females (mostly sisters), and youngsters from the previous year, one of the most unusual breeding systems in the natural world. Much of the research has occurred in the oak woodlands of Monterey County, California (where I live), and some fascinating facts are in MacRoberts & MacRoberts (1976), Koenig (1981), Koenig & Mumme (1987), and Stacey & Koenig (1984). Acorn Woodpeckers also collect and store acorns in granary trees against lean times (below). They are also frequent at my bird feeder, eating ordinary bird seed in times when acorn crops are poor.
More fine woodpeckers occur in the red fir/lodgepole pine forests of the Sierra Nevada. There is almost nothing so pleasant on a lazy summer day in the mountains as listening for the tapping of woodpeckers and chasing each one down. The ultimate highlight is finding a rare Black-backed Woodpecker (left); this male was accompanied by a young fledgling.