In On the Move, our regular column about migration, we present pairs of distribution maps from eBird that you can use to compare where interesting birds are at different times of the year. We featured Red-headed Woodpecker, pictured above, in our July/August 2019 issue.
Red-headed Woodpecker, one of North America’s most distinctive breeding birds, does not follow a regular migratory pattern but instead moves in response to the availability of beechnuts, pecans, acorns, and other hard mast. The maps above plot where eBird users reported the species in summer and winter over the last decade. In August, the species is found in most of the eastern United States and in portions of southern Canada. The western edge of its breeding range is in eastern Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Its preferred breeding habitat is a wooded area with openings, along with dead limbs or snags, where they nest in cavities. By January, the species has withdrawn from the northern reaches of its breeding range to areas of the Midwest and Southeast, where it occurs year-round. Listen for the species’ characteristic call, a harsh queearr, repeated by males during the breeding season.
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eBird is the real-time online checklist operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon. “On the Move” is written by eBird’s Garrett MacDonald, Chris Wood, Marshall Iliff, and Brian Sullivan. Submit your bird sightings at ebird.org.
A version of this article appeared in “Birding Briefs” in the July/August 2019 issue of BirdWatching.