Red-Headed Woodpecker Migrant

Well, I was once again going to blog on the Red-headed Woodpecker’s Near-Threatened status on the IUCN list. The reason I felt another post was needed was because I didn’t see my first Red-headed Woodpecker of the year until June 3. I know I haven’t been birding as often as previous years but June?? So I figured the bird status is really in trouble. But I think the simple answer is the Red-headed Woodpecker migrant status.

Red-Headed Woodpecker Migrant
This was the lucky winner. My first Red-headed Woodpecker of the year.

After thinking June is late to see a Red-headed Woodpecker I looked at previous years records and saw my usual Johnson County date is in May. So June isn’t far off anyway. Which started me thinking it might be more migratory than I thought.


The eBird Red-headed Woodpecker frequency chart for Indiana. Looks like the migration arrival date is late April and departure is September. With a few year-round residents.

Which leads me to wishing range maps had a little more detail. Take the following from Cornell Lab. By looking at the map one would deduce Red-headed Woodpeckers are common in Indiana all year.

Now the Audubon website is closer to getting it right with the Common and Uncommon Status. But it still has Indiana as Common for All Seasons. This isn’t exactly true. There almost needs to be another color/category standing for Breeding – common Winter – Uncommon. But as always there is a trade-off on too much or little detail.

From my perspective Audubon is closer to being correct.

I wonder how many other species are listed as year-round residents fall into this category? The American Robin and Red-winged Blackbird come to mind. I checked and they are only uncommon in January and part of February. So not really.

Maybe I was wrong and it isn’t worth field guides time to include. Are there other species you think might fall into this category?

2 Replies to “Red-Headed Woodpecker Migrant”

  1. Interesting post. I am not up to speed on the migratory habits of Red-headed Woodpeckers, but it sounds like the category you are describing could apply to any facultative migrant, like Sandhill Cranes and Great Blue Herons. I wouldn’t expect to see either of those in northeast Indiana in January (although I have in both cases), but if I did it wouldn’t really be that surprising either, especially if the weather was nice.

    1. I hadn’t thought of Great Blue Heron. I checked and it does fit the criteria. Sandhill Crane didn’t even cross my mind since we don’t have them around here in the summer. Once I get through June I’ll put together a better list.

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