Red-bellied Woodpeckers are permanent Decorah residents. Their dietary flexibility and foraging skills help them cope with the area’s changing seasons and food availability. When snow and ice cover the ground, they eat mostly seeds: acorns, pine nuts, beechnuts, wild plant seeds, birdseed, and fresh and dried fruit. During the summer, they eat mostly live prey, including spiders, centipedes, ants, beetle larvae, caterpillars, lizards, snakes, frogs, fish, eggs, and nestling birds.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers excavate their nest cavities in dead wood. Have you ever seen rows of woodpecker holes in a tree? They typically excavate a new nest cavity each year, often placing the new one beneath the previous year’s hole. Red-bellied woodpeckers lay two to six eggs per clutch on a bed of wood chips and may produce up to three broods per year. They incubate eggs for 12-14 days and young stay in the nest for 24-27 days before fledging. The male incubates at night and the female incubates during the day. To learn more, visit Cornell’s website.