Red-headed WoodpeckerMelanerpes erythrocephalus (Linnaeus)
Status Rare vagrant. Downs (1888) referred to it as "a mere straggler" and Piers (1894) stated that one was collected at Ketch Harbour, Halifax County, "about ten years ago," which may be the basis for Downs' reference. The next record was not until 1928. One each appeared in 1949, 1952 and 1953, but since 1962 the birds occurred more regularly, with reports every year except 1977. Clearly there has been a change in status. Among these visitors, 21 first appeared in October; 13 appeared in May, 11 each in September and November, 3 in June, 2 each in May and July, and 1 in April. One adult spent winter 1978-79 at feeders in Bedford, Halifax County, and another overwintered in Amherst in 1982-83. When noted, immatures have outnumbered adults by about two to one.
Remarks The normal range of this woodpecker lies to the west and south of Nova Scotia. It is a bird of the open countryside, seeming to avoid woodland areas. Adults are unmistakable, and the large, white wing patches of immatures are diagnostic. Concerning the habits of this bird, Godfrey (1966) says:
"It takes insects on the wing, flycatcher fashion, more frequently than do most other woodpeckers. It eats also fruits and nuts in some quantities and is not above taking eggs and young of other birds on occasion. Except in extreme southern Ontario, it is nowhere a common bird in Canada."
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