Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Red-bellied Woodpecker - Melanerpes carolinus
PICIDAE Members:
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General Comments Unlike the Red-headed Woodpecker, the Red-bellied Woodpecker is essentially a nonmigratory species that is much more common and easily found across the state. Even so, it is not common in much of the mountain region, especially above 3,500 feet. Thankfully, its numbers have not been impacted by European Starlings, and this woodpecker is every bit as numerous now, if not more so, than it was 100 years ago. Red-bellieds are widespread in mature and fairly mature forests and wooded areas of many types -- upland hardwoods, wooded residential areas, bottomlands and swamps, and pine stands -- though it favors hardwoods over pines. They are common in cities and towns and occur in most wooded yards, often frequenting bird feeders.
Breeding Status Breeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S5
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Permanent resident, essentially nonmigratory, though some evidence of migrants can be seen along the coast in fall. Common essentially throughout, though much less numerous on the immediate coast (barrier islands). However, it does occur where suitable forested habitat is present along the coast. Peak counts:
Piedmont Permanent resident. Common essentially throughout, though somewhat less numerous in foothill ranges; migratory movements generally not detectable. Peak counts:
Mountains Permanent resident, with some migratory movements detectable. Fairly common all year at lower elevations, up to about 3,000 feet; uncommon to about 4,000 feet; above that elevation, primarily a rare to uncommon fall visitor, and not known to breed. Considered to be on the increase in the mountains in recent decades. Peak counts: 6, Carvers Gap (Roan Mountain), 29 Sep 2002.
Finding Tips None needed over the Piedmont and most of the Coastal Plain -- very difficult to miss in a day of birding there.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-03-22], LeGrand[2012-07-14], LeGrand[2011-12-10]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.
NC Breeding Season Map
Map depicts assumed breeding season abundance for the species.