Their diet consists of nuts, insects(which they catch on the fly), and fruit. They are only one of four woodpeckers who are known to store food for the winter season, and are the only one to cover the stored food with wood or bark. Because of this ability, they are not long-range migrators, but may wonder in loose flocks during migration season to find food when scarce.
The Red Head is a prolific breeder. The male finds the nest site and does most of the excavation of the 3-6" across X 8-16" deep nest, in dead trees or limbs. They will have 3-10 white eggs with 2 possible broods per season. Incubation time is 12 days and the chicks will fledge in 24-30 days.
They are losing population with a 70% reduction since 1966. While not considered endangered, they are being watched closely. Their decline is primarily related to habitat loss, especially of the serious decline of the beech and chestnut trees in their range.
Goose Creek state park has almost perfect habitat for the Red Head. It is open woodland with mixed pine and deciduous trees, and an abundance of Live Oaks which normally produce a healthy acorn crop. There are plentiful dead pines in which to nest and store food. Additionally, the insect population is abundant and present year round, and the fruit of abundant red cedar is available in winter and early spring. I have never visited this site without seeing these birds, usually in good numbers. I was there on Oct. 2 and saw around 50 "checker boarding" all over the place. It was good to note that about 30% of what I saw were adolescents who still had their immature coloration. As young birds, their heads are dark brown(instead of red), and the white patch on their wings have black stripes. They also have black-spotted undersides. They were all busy gathering acorns and tucking them into every crevice they could find or create. Their hammering could be heard non-stop. I was able to get some good pics of this action and hope you enjoy them in the gallery below.