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Red-bellied Woodpeckers Catch and Cache with Ease

Oct 3, 2016

Learn about October Bird of the Month’s tools and techniques


Throughout 2016, the Forest Preserves of Cook County invites visitors to see some of the most interesting native and migrating birds in the Preserves.


Each month during the Forest Preserves’ 2016 Bird the Preserves initiative, a new bird will be highlighted. Visitors will have the opportunity to spot the bird of the month at an event or program, and learn what makes that bird so special. The October Bird of the Month is the red-bellied woodpecker.


Red-bellied woodpeckers catch and cache with ease. These birds have the tools and techniques to support a varied diet year-round:


  • Sharp tongue: Extending almost two inches past the beak, their tongues can probe deep into crevices. The barbs at the end of the tongue and sticky spit help pull out any prey inside.
  • Nut cracker: These woodpeckers place large nuts in bark crevices, then smash them into edible pieces with their beaks.
  • Snack storage: When insects aren’t plentiful, they depend on food like fruits, nuts and seeds that they can cache and eat later. Having food stashed in different locations across their territory is critical when other sources of food become scarce.


To see the October Bird of the Month, check out this events:


Knock, Knock! Who’s there?

Sunday, October 9 – 1 pm

Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Road, Barrington Hills


Holiday Program: The Red-bellied Woodpecker

Monday, October 10 – 1:30 pm

Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15891 S Paxton Ave, South Holland


Bird of the Month: Red-bellied Woodpecker

Saturday, October 15 – 1 pm

Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest


In addition to learning about the featured Bird of the Month and enjoying birding programs and events, birders of all skill levels can explore the preserves with teams competing in the Forest Preserves’ Big Year birding competition. During the Big Year competition, the preserves compete instead of the people. Participants will visit their team’s preserve and log all bird sightings in eBird, an online birding checklist program. All are welcome to join these searches and binoculars will be available for loan.


The competition runs from March 1 to Dec. 31, and is a great way to challenge yourself and explore a local preserve, make new friends and experience what birding is all about. To learn more about the Big Year competition, visit


Join a growing movement of nature lovers and bird the preserves this year while enjoying the many amenities offered throughout the Forest Preserves, including miles of marked trails, major waterways that can be canoed or kayaked, dedicated nature preserves and more.


Support for Bird the Preserves was generously provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through Chicago Wilderness. For more information, visit For additional information about the Big Year competition, visit

Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County