Another New Bird In The Garden

It’s been a rather wet, cold, and dismal weekend. One bright spot, though, was the sighting of another new avian visitor to the garden: the Red-headed Woodpecker. In fact, this was the first time either Judy or I had ever seen this particular bird, in the garden or out.

Red-headed Woodpecker on the Silver Maple in our back garden. The light was not great due to overcast skies.

This bird is really striking with its crimson head, snow-white body, and black wings with large white patches. Its unusual appearance has given rise to a number of common names, including Half-a-shirt, Shirt-tail Bird, Flag Bird, and Flying Checkerboard.

Unfortunately, the number of Red-headed Woodpeckers has declined dramatically in recent decades, mostly due to habitat loss. It likes open woodlands, especially pine forests. Its diet consists of insects and fruit, but sometimes will feed on suet at birdfeeders.


Judy and I are hoping to see this bird regularly in the future. Maybe it will even be nesting nearby.

44 Comments on “Another New Bird In The Garden

    • We do see the red -bellied woodpeckers now and then, along with the Downies and Hairys. We used to have Northern Flickers also, but haven’t seen them in at least a year.

  1. This is great! I would have been so excited, I have not seen this particular woodpecker myself

    • You think so? I haven’t been contacted by birders wanting to spot this bird. Though we haven’t seen it since that day.

      • Red-Headed Woodpeckers aren’t rare, they’re not vigrants, but they’re declining, so it’s always special to see one.

  2. It’s wonderful when new birds come to your garden, I feel we have to do what we can to attract them when they are losing habitat at such a rate. I hope it stays with you.

  3. Gorgeous! I always have several woodpeckers and flickers at my feeders, but I have not seen this one either.

  4. It is very beautiful I’m rather wary of Woodpeckers as here they have a tenancy to make holes in house walls or shutters, they do a lot of damage which can be costly!

    • They will do that here, too. Our house has mostly vinyl siding, though that doesn’t completely stop them. We have some wooden railings which they well sometimes peck away at.

  5. We have downy and pileated woodpeckers here. The pileated was up on the roof tapping away on the chimney and I though the house would collapse with the noise. He finally figured out he could not penetrate metal. On another note, I have cardinals nesting in an large ninebark bush. In 46 years I have never seen them nest in the yard.

  6. Woodpecker sightings are always exciting! We usually see a few downy woodpeckers throughout the season at our feeders, especially the suet – never seen a red headed woodpecker, though.

  7. Gorgeous birds and apparently they have good taste to pick your yard. Let’s hope they are nesting!

  8. Beautiful bird! I’ve never seen one. Yes, hope a pair is nesting nearby.

  9. I’m so excited for you. I, too, saw the red-headed woodpecker in my yard a few weeks ago. It was the first time in my life that I had seen him. Unfortunately, he didn’t stay around. Just a few days ago, I was in a parking lot of a hospital and saw another one flying from tree to tree.

    In a recent post, you had photos of the rose-breasted grosbeak. That’s another bird I had never before seen. So gorgeous! He was at my feeders off and on throughout the day for about five days in late April and early May, and then disappeared. According to my bird book, he’s a migrator in my area (Richmond, VA) so maybe I’ll see him again during a future migration.

    • Same here with the Grosbeaks – they just stop for a week or so on their way through. I will say that once we saw them they made it a habit to stop by our garden every spring.

  10. Fabulous! I used to have an old pecan tree that hosted generations of a woodpecker family. Alas it decayed and had to be removed. And no more woodpeckers.

  11. What luck getting a life bird in your garden! It is a handsome woodpecker. They are so noisy and gregarious. We love watching them nest in the park not far from us. Congrats on the new garden bird.

  12. I hope you see this bird again. It’s a compliment to you and Judy to have such a handsome visitor.

  13. What a beauty! I do hope it hangs around to grace your trees! We have a similar bird which visits our gardens. You must be doing a lot of things right attracting so many, diverse

  14. Cool! It’s always exciting to see a new bird species in the garden. I’ve only seen this one a few times, and I think it was somewhere north of us in Wisconsin. Enjoy!

  15. I’ve never seen one of these — lucky you! I do have a red-bellied who’s been stopping by my balcony to pick up some of the peanuts in the shell I put out for the bluejays and cardinals. With no yard and no trees other than palms, I never expected to see one, but now that I’m looking I see him on a palm tree occasionally. It’s a bit of an odd sight.

  16. Hello Jason, I’ve seen the woodpeckers with the red on the lower front and back of the head (Greater Spotted Woodpecker?) but not one with a completely crimson-red head. It’s “flying chequerboard” moniker is pretty funny.

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