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Red-bellied Woodpecker. A Rare Sight in Ontario.

Red Bellied Woodpecker at feederI was thrilled to see this Red-bellied Woodpecker at our feeder this winter. I’ve had a challenge getting a picture of him as he stays for only a short period of time each visit.

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is one of the rarest of Ontario woodpeckers, preferring mature deciduous forests, primarily Carolinian forest, for its habitat. I have been adding many trees and shrubs native to the Carolinian forest to our landscape over the past couple of years so I hope that means this fellow will stay. Southern Ontario is at the extreme northern limit of the Red-bellied Woodpecker’s range.

This is the male of the species, identified by it’s red hood from the top of it’s head to the back of it’s neck. The female has a red neck only. Unfortunately, I have not seen a female yet in our yard so I may not be fortunate enough to have some babies next spring.

Since adding more trees and putting up many feeders I have really noticed an increase in the bird population around our home. The most abundant woodpeckers in our yard are the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers. We have so many now they are almost common.

46 Responses

  1. Martin
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    I live in the Guelph ON area. I have had a male Red-Bellied Woodpecker visit our feeder several times since the last week of Jan 2016. On one occasion I saw 2 Downy both male, and a male Hairy Woodpecker in our backyard tree with a male Red-Bellied Woodpecker. Also at that time there was a female Downy eating suit at the bird feeder. It was a great sight.

    • Everchanging Gardener
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      Very cool Martin. We haven’t seen quite as many this year although perhaps with the warmer weather they have more natural feeding places.

    • Daphne
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      Daphne Hawkestone, On. We regularly have a male red headed woodpecker visit our bird feeder and maples alongside. This has been happening for years now, pretty much year round.

    • Richard McQuade
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      I live in Etobicoke ON (west end of Toronto) and first sighted this woodpecker at my peanut feeder on Nov 17, 2018. It continues to make regular appearances at my backyard feeder. I think I have both a male and female but am unsure.

  2. Anne Brown
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    I just saw a male come through my backyard, landing briefly on the suet feeder. Mar 8/16. Very exciting! This is in Ajax, ON along the lake, near a wooded area. It’s the first visit ever, though we appear to be on a migratory pathway for birds.

  3. Betty Walker
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    Brighton, ON……I have a male red bellied woodpecker here, showed up last week, eats the suet. He was here last winter too. I have lots of Downy and Hairy woodpeckers too.

  4. Leanne Williams
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    First sight here was Jan. 2016 April 1st now and he still comes regularly. I use a mix of suet block, and seeds in feeders and platforms. This male red belly eats seed from the wooden silo feeders. (Mix of song bird blend fruit and nut, black oil and critter mix). Suits a good variety… woodpeckers jays cardimals nut hatches chickadees finch gross beaks warblers. I’ve even seen indigo bunting.

  5. Jojo
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    2016 – Northern ontario here (Sault Ste Marie) I’ve had a female red bellied all winter now, she comes around quite a few times a day. I make my own suet since I notice most bird tended to not eat it (except for starling, they eat everything.. lol). I just hope she finds a male, haven’t seen one yet

  6. Hank Rodgers
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    2016 He arrive daily at the peanut feeder in Jan. and has been a regular ever since. He is a beautiful male and so far haven’t seen a mate.

  7. Deb
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    I also have a male red bellied….very shy….Eden ON

  8. Linda Tapper
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    Fishermans Cove Otter Lake (Gray Bruce) Ontario. Bruce road and Hwy 9. Have had a male red-bellied Woodpecker show up for the last year at my feeder -black oil seed. Took a couple of days to figure him out as we have never seen one before. A beautiful bird. April 28, 2016

  9. Rural
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    Have had a Red Bellied Woodpecker visiting here in the Chatsworth area of Grey County for 3 or 4 years now, we think he raised a young one last year. This year he has become quite ‘tame’ and visits the feeder daily and is not spooked by our presence, have not seen a female yet this year. Short video on my blog The Rural Canadian!

  10. Cingo
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    We continually have a male red bellied woodpecker at our feeder beginning this past November 2016 to present. Very exciting! We’ve added him to our woodpecker list including downy, hairy, and pileated! We’re up north in Oro-Medonte, ON.

    • Everchanging Gardener
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      Hi Cingo – quite exciting. I had actually never heard of a pileated woodpecker and looked that one up. I’m going to have to watch closely in my own back yard now. Happy bird watching in 2017.

    • Urban forest
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      It’s always nice to see a new bird visit our backyard here in Kitchener. This past winter we have seen a red bellied woodpecker on two occasions at our suet feeder. Very exciting!

  11. J
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    We have just been honoured to have a male red-bellied chap come around as of last week enjoying the suet, but have seen him only on a few occasions. No mate, but he flits in and out fairly quickly, and quite skittish, so we may be missing some of the activity. Camera shy, but very exciting to have him join the regular Hairy and Downy crowd. I am in Oakville, ON, close to a large creek/ravine.

    • J
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      We recently moved from Oakville to Ancaster … he seems to have just found us again and we’re thrilled!!

  12. Susan Houston
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    I had my first Red-Bellied Woodpecker just this past weekend, February 11,2017 here in the Kawartha’s just south of Buckhorn Ontario. Only the male has been to the feeder so far.

  13. mclean
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    We live in Ennismore which is just north of Peterborough, Ontario. We have had a Red Bellied Woodpecker at our feeders all winter long. (2016/2017) He loves the suet feeders and chooses the same one every time. He is very shy. We have never seen this species before this year and are thrilled to have him here. Simply beautiful.

  14. jon
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    I have a male and female couple as well as another male that visit my feeders daily since I’ve lived here. (Just under 1 year). I know their sound now. Very nice bird to watch and not afraid of any other birds that I’ve seen. In fact I’ve seen them take over the feeders while all other birds fly away. I get downy and hairy woodpeckers daily as well. I’m in Haldimand county .

  15. Chris Freypons
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    Just saw a beautiful male red bellied woodpecker in High Park Toronto on this sunny afternoon?
    Stunning red head!

  16. Elinor Smith
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    Live in the Barrie,Ont area…have a a beautiful male red bellied woodpecker feeding here for a month….loves the suet from the TSC store , haven’t seen a female yet, but hoping to see one soon. Different woodpeckers form a waiting line for the suet….have a shrub very close by, and it gives all the birds protection from a hungry hawk who tried once, and got caught up in the branches. haven’t seen it since.

  17. donnie kerr
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    I must have 5 at a time in the crabapple tree in my front yard

  18. David
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    We had one at our feeder yesterday (April 23, 2017). We live just outside of Meaford Ontario on Georgian bay. We were excited to see it.

  19. Jason
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    We have a male and female frequenting our backyard. First time we’ve seen this type of bird here. We live in western Laval (Montreal) right on the river.

  20. Tracy phinney
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    We have a pair at our suet feeder this morning in Rideau Lakes area. First time ever – we have a thick deciduous forest here with abundant marshes on our property. Saw flicker, downy, hairy, and pileated as well this morning. I guess it is a woodpecker kind of day

  21. Albino Chickadee
    | Reply

    Guelph, Ontario Jan 2018 Have had a male red bellied woodpecker for a couple of years now. Did not expect him this far north ( range limit) and last year due to very brief appearances deferred to the red headed but confirmed it this time as he had made our black oiled/ mixed seeds feeder and tree suet fat his mainstay diet throughout the winter. Send us a female please! Downy’s, Hairy’s are common place and the Pileated was a rarity a couple of times in the past.

  22. John Dickson
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    We live in Sarnia, close to a forested area in the north end of the city. We’ve attacted a female Red Bellied Woodpecker, who visits our two suit feeders almost every day this spring. Last season (winter months) a male of that species was seen at our feeders, but he has not re-appeared this year.

    But sure id this is a normal sighting patterm or not…. i.e., seeing only one or the other, not both together.

    J & S Dickson

  23. Sarah A Wiens
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    I’ve had a male visit my feeder in the very early morning for a week now. I’m in Binbrook, Ontario, (outside of Hamilton) I had a pileated woodpecker visit last year as well. Always a nice surprise!

  24. Brenda Levesque
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    Just saw a female red bellied woodecker on our front yard. I live east of Newcastle, Ontario.

  25. sheila payne
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    We just saw one for the first time in your yard tonight. I had to google it to find out what it was. Beautiful bird !
    Tillsonburg ont

  26. Beth Shaw
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    Just had a red bellied woodpecker eating sunflower seeds at my feeder. What a beauty! I’m in Sudbury, ON

  27. Karl
    | Reply

    Had one in our backyard here in Oshawa, a few days ago. A real beauty!!!

  28. Michelle
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    A male arrived at our suet feeder today. He’s a looker.

    Outside of Delhi, ON

  29. Angela jacobs
    | Reply

    We just had a male red bellied woodpecker at our feeder and as like yours he only briefly stays to eat then disappears. I had to look it up to find what he was as we’ve never seen him before. We live in Omemee Ontario. Ange and Jason

  30. Janice
    | Reply

    I live in Blackstock Ontario, Lake Scugog area. I have a male red bellied hanging around my feeder and eating suet for the past week. There may also be a female, and I may be seeing more than one bird…. I’ll get back to you on that one.
    January 13, 2019

  31. Randall
    | Reply

    I saw one this week on one of the trails skirting the north of Tillsonburg. It was about noon. What a noisy bird!

  32. Ron Myhr
    | Reply

    We’re in north Pickering, northeast of Toronto, and have had a pair of red bellies for a couple of years. We mix peanuts in a generic black-oil-heavy mix, and I think they go for the peanuts.

  33. Ty and Erika
    | Reply

    Cambridge Ontario. May 4, 2019. We have a male and a female currently boring out their nest in our Norway Maple.

  34. Virginia
    | Reply

    We’re located on one of the eastern 1000 islands of the St. Lawrence River, near the end of Lake Ontario. We have at least two males coming to our feeders. Interesting enough our island has one of the last stands of Carolian forest, considered quite north for it. They sure like to talk. I also have a third one which has quite a dark back but the head has the same markings. I cant be sure if it’s a mutated variation the the red bellied woodpecker.

  35. Anna
    | Reply

    August 28th 2019
    First time seeing this beautiful bird-thinking it was female
    Not sure how long it’s been in the area but neighbors cleared shrubs were a few days ago and Red may of had to relocate to the taller spruce __beautiful

  36. Michele Martin
    | Reply

    I’ve been hearing this bird calling around my place near Bayfield, Ontario – there must be quite a few of them. Only today finally saw the bird and figured out who was making this call! Wow, beautiful bird. Quite a few woodpecker species around here in the forested areas near the lake – lots of Pileated woodpeckers too!

  37. Leanne L
    | Reply

    We had our first visit from the red bellied woodpecker today. He was here most of the day! Beautiful and seemed comfortable going from the forest to the feeder and the pool cover.
    Today we had…several Downeys, a hairy, a red bellied and a northern flicker! A male oriole for the 1st time as well!
    What a day!

  38. Leanne Leonard
    | Reply

    Sorry…the last comment was from Springwater Ontario on May 8th, 2020

    | Reply

    just saw a couple in my garden in London Ontario. Was hearing them up to now, but saw both very well this morning.

  40. Rhoda Law
    | Reply

    June 01 2020 Winona spotted 2 of them on my feeder, they come everyday for the oranges and watermelon, once you hear there call you know they’re around

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