Red-headed Woodpeckers

How many of you know what a red-headed woodpecker looks like?

My guess is that if you do, you've lived in the Midwest at some time in your life. When I was growing up in Ohio, seeing red-headed woodpeckers was a fairly common occurrence. Yet it was always a treat. They are one of my favorite birds of all times. I've never seen one in New England. So, it's been years since I'd seen one. 

David and I saw one in Minnesota in the same state park that we saw the painted turtle. We saw a few fleeting sightings of this beautiful bird, but we were sure we saw it. Apparently they used to be common in those woods, but now it is rare to see one. So David and I felt fortunate. 

When we visited friends in Michigan a few days after that, we watched birds for a good part of two days and we had the thrill of seeing the male red-headed woodpecker numerous times. We even took photos of him. Alas, they didn't come out very well, but you can at least see that we caught him on camera. Seeing him through the lenses of the binoculars was a real treat.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Here is a much better image, from my all-time favorite birding site "All About Birds" from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This gives you a much better idea why it's such a treat to see one of these woodpeckers, especially the males.


David and I are back home after our three-week road trip. We traveled just over 6,000 miles altogether. We are feeling very grateful to be safely home. We were amazed at how many dead deer we saw along the way. And how many people text and drive or phone and drive. And truckers moving too fast never makes for a safe feeling on the road. So we feel like we had protective angels watching over us. 

I will be posting more regularly here on my blog. In the coming week, I will be posting an interview with Jolina Petersheim about her new book, The Midwife. She is the author of the best-selling novel The Outcast. She is offering a giveaway copy of The Midwife along with the interview. So I hope you'll come and leave a comment for a chance to win her book. 

Don't forget… you can sign up to receive an email alert when I post something new. To sign up you can go to the bottom right-hand of my blog and sign up in just a few easy steps. And you can always unsubscribe should you decide you don't want to receive the alerts any longer. 

I hope you are all enjoying the first days of summer. I love the longer days and the flowers that are blooming. I breath in the cool air coming through my window after a humid day and I am thankful. I hear cars crossing the bridge over the Connecticut River and the night sounds of little critters (crickets?). It is time to enter dreamland, so I will bid you good-night. 

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12 thoughts on “Red-headed Woodpeckers”

  1. Elva Bontrager

    I, for one, really appreciate the heads up. And I’m glad you plan to post to your blog more often; it is always interesting.

    Here in Alaska my favorite bird is the raven. They so obviously enjoy life hugely and have such a sense of humor, if not devilment. They are fun to watch. I like them much better than the bald eagles. At times I have told people that the raven enjoys life while the eagle is not sure he is even on the right planet. :)

    Here in Juneau we are still in springtime. Temperatures range from the low 40s to the low 60s. In summer the range will be more like the 50s to the low 70s, rarely higher.

    We have a great many blossoming bushes and flowering plants right now. Tulips and daffodils are gone but azaleas and rhodies – and the thigh-high dandelions (I like them ) – are spectacular. Spring is not my favorite season – autumn is – but I do like the perfumed air of springtime and the brilliance of the blossoms. Flowers are much brighter here than they are anywhere else that I have seen. They always look freshly scrubbed.

    Glad you made it back safely from your journeys!

    1. Elva, thank you for letting me know that you enjoy my blog postings. That’s interesting that you like the raven. They are so incredibly smart! What a wonderful description of the raven and the eagle. I had never thought of them that way. Your description of the seasons, the blossoms, and the temperatures in your area are immediate… I get the feeling I’m looking through your eyes. Hats off to you that you can make it through the Alaskan winters. I can barely make it through Massachusetts winters. I hear such joy in your descriptions… it shows you live your life with gusto. Thank you so much for stopping by and spreading your joy.

  2. I grew up in Detroit and yes, I remember red-headed woodpeckers, thanks in part to two bird-watching parents. Hadn’t realized they are scarce around here in Western Mass until you pointed it out. We’ve got downies and and hairies, not nearly as spectacular as the red-head. I live next to a large marsh, so my summer sounds include frogs and red-wing blackbirds, as well as LOTS of crickets.

    1. Johanna, you’re right, I’ve seen the downies and hairies here in Mass, but the red-headeds are quite amazing to see. Most people here don’t even know what they look like. 

      I always thought that crickets came out in late summer and fall. That’s why I was surprized by the sounds last night… they sounded like crickets, but I didn’t think it was the season for them. 

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Beth A Sholly

    Hello. I met you at Goshen Public Library this past Saturday and picked up both of your books. Where can I email a response? Positive of course.

    1. Hello Beth. I enjoyed the event at Goshen. So glad you could be there. You can email me at: I am open to hearing people’s critiques and comments. And I love finding reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, should you feel so inclined. I look forward to reading your comments one way or another. 


  4. I don’t think we’d get the red-headed woodpecker around here, but I have sometimes seen the pileated woodpecker which has a red crest and is a very attractive bird.

    1. Hello Ian! It’s so good to hear from you! Yes, the pileated woodpecker is another real thrill to sight. But they don’t seem to be as regional as the red-headed. I wonder why the difference?

      How have you been? I need to come visit your blog one of these days. When I was still on Facebook, I couldn’t find the time to read blogs. But I released myself, so I will be finding time more often, now that I’m back home. 

      Warm greetings to you and your family.

  5. Hi Saloma,
    Your comments on traffic and drivers today is “spot on” as the Brits would say. I should have a sign on the back of my vehicle reading “makes frequent stops or I’m in no hurry, past me.” The backroads are among the only sane places that I traveller. Lucky me! I’m glad to hear that you are safe at home, a good place to be.
    Tom The Backroads Traveller

    1. Hence, the name “Backroads Traveller”! I don’t blame you! On the road it’s all about distraction and trying to get someplace at the same time, it seems. What ever happened to two eyes on the road and two hands on the steering wheel? It’s another example of how many of our practices in the modern world are not self-sustaining. 

      Enjoy those back roads. And thanks for your good wishes. I’m truly enjoying home.

  6. As a kid my sister, brother, and I would spend a week with my grandparents each summer. They lived about 20 miles north of Clare, MI. We simply knew it as “Up North.” Their home was surrounded by woods and a lake lay at the foot of a hill in front of their home. It was glorious! I especially realize that now.

    I remember the red-headed woodpeckers fondly. Their quest for food echoed throughout the woods. To this day I consider them an amazing bird. Trees are hard!

    My grandma was notorious for feeding wildlife. Apples to the deer, stale bread to the Canadian geese, and suet to the birds in winter. Cardinals and blue-jays were plentiful as well as other birds I can’t identify by name. The blue-jays were bossy, loud, and to be feared. One attacked my tall, rugged grandfather’s head. Luckily a paper plate was within reach and served as a barrier between flesh and talons. I never saw my grandpa run faster than he did on that day.

    1. Fran, what a great story about the bluejay attacking your grandpa. I think I could also get up speed (believe it or not) if I was being attacked by one of them… you’re right, they’re mean and loud and boisterous. 

      Nice to have beautiful memories of “Up North.” Thanks for stopping by.

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