Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) usurping nest of Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

Published in 1997

Woodpeckers frequently interact with other birds wanting to use the holes they have excavated, including other woodpecker species. Bent (1964) noted that Red-headed Woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) are particularly prone to engage in such interactions. However, Red-bellied woodpeckers appear to be somewhat less aggressive. Jackson (1976) observed a Red-headed Woodpecker chase away a Red-bellied Woodpecker one-hundred feet (30.5 m) from its nest, whereas a male Red-bellied took no action when a Red-headed came within a few feet from its nest. In interactions with either Red-headed Woodpeckers or European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), Ingold (1989) found Red-bellied Woodpeckers to be inferior competitors; starlings frequently take over the nest cavities.

Author: Larry F. Gardella
Volume Number: 43 Year Published: 1997
Issue Number: 1
Page Number: 44

Link to article: 43 No 1 1997_p44-48.pdf
Link to the full issue of BirdLife: 43 No 1 1997.pdf