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Can You Pet a Red-Bellied Woodpecker

  • Pet Care

Get to Know the Red-Bellied Woodpecker

The red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) is a medium-sized bird that is found throughout the eastern United States, from New England to Florida and west to central Texas. This woodpecker has a black-and-white barred back, wings, and tail, while its belly is bright red. It’s well known for its loud calls that can be heard echoing through coastal forests and woodlands.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker as a pet


This species of woodpecker is relatively common and is often seen poking its head out of a tree, looking for food. Red-bellied woodpeckers are nonmigratory and tend to stay in the same area all year round. They feed on bugs, fruits, and seeds, and they will often make holes in trees to get to the insects hidden inside. They are quite active during the day, and usually make their presence known with their loud calls.


Red-bellied woodpeckers can be found in deciduous and mixed forests. They prefer open woodlands such as parks, gardens, and city streets. Some of the states that are known for having especially large populations in this species include Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas. These birds are also very territorial, making sure to protect their area from other woodpeckers who might be looking for food.

Can You Pet Them?

Although these woodpeckers are quite friendly and have even been known to eat out of people’s hands, they should not be petted. When it comes to animals, petting should only be done if the animal is domesticated or used to being handled. Wild animals like the red-bellied woodpecker should be observed from a safe distance and not touched. Not only is it dangerous to touch a wild animal, but some may also be protected under the law.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker Conservation

The red-bellied woodpecker population is currently stable, but as human development continues to encroach on their habitats, their numbers could be in danger. This species of woodpecker is currently listed as a Species of Concern in the US and Canada due to threats like deforestation and habitat loss. Conservation efforts such as replanting, creating corridors of habitat, and preserving natural spaces are important steps in protecting the red-bellied woodpecker for future generations.


The red-bellied woodpecker is an incredibly interesting species of bird with its black-and-white barred back and bright red belly. This species of woodpecker is found widely throughout the eastern United States and is nonmigratory, staying in the same area all year round. Although they are very friendly birds and may even eat out of people’s hands, they should not be petted. Conservation efforts are important to protect the red-bellied woodpecker, so always make sure to respect them while they still remain in their natural habitats.

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