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Male Red-bellied Woodpeckers Calling & Tapping To Attract Mate

One of the best ways to determine if Red-bellied Woodpeckers have chosen to nest nearby is the presence of their persistent and distinctive “kwirr” call.  It is given most often now, during the breeding season, when males try to attract a mate to their roost cavity or a partially completed excavation by calling to them.  Drumming and soft taps are also performed by males as part of the courtship ritual. 

When attracted, the female flies to the male and indicates her acceptance of his cavity by perching beside him while they both engage in tapping behavior. If the cavity is partially completed, the mutual tapping behavior also appears to stimulate the female to help the male finish excavating the cavity. (Photo: male Red-bellied Woodpecker at nest hole; inset: male (left) and female (right) tapping at nest hole.)

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3 responses

  1. Alice

    I love these birds & also love the ‘kissing’ sound they make…we ‘talk’ back & forth….mostly see the male enjoying suet, very close to the kitchen sink window…but saw a female this past winter.

    April 15, 2022 at 9:58 am

  2. Alice

    Easter Sunday: a female Red-bellied came to get some suet from the feeder (about an hour ago)…difficult to get a photo w/ iPad, as soon as I move they fly away. What a beauty!

    April 17, 2022 at 10:30 am

  3. Alice

    ….and she was here, again…loves the suet.

    April 17, 2022 at 11:54 am

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