Red-bellied Woodpeckers are Built to Eat

Red-bellied woodpeckers catch & 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.





Watch this woodpecker forage



See This Bird!!!

Each month during our 2016 Bird the Preserves initiative, we’re giving you the opportunity to see some of the most interesting birds in the preserves:

Knock, Knock! Who’s there?
Sunday, October 9 – 1 pm
Crabtree Nature Center
3 Stover Road, Barrington Hills, IL 60010

Holiday Program: The Red-bellied Woodpecker
Monday, October 10 – 1:30 pm
Sand Ridge Nature Center
15891 S Paxton Ave, South Holland, IL 60473

Bird of the Month: Red-bellied Woodpecker
Saturday, October 15 – 1 pm
Trailside Museum of Natural History
738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest, IL 60305


Photo by Paul Dacko. Support for Bird the Preserves was generously provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through Chicago Wilderness.

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