Rare woodpecker spotted at Lloyd Center

Jan 15, 2022

There’s a new guest at the Lloyd Center for the Environment — one not seen in its more than 40 year history: a red-headed woodpecker.

Research Associate Jamie Bogart said he spotted a juvenile bird at one of the center’s feeders during this past Tuesday’s arctic front.

“It was a real luck of the draw,” he said. “I’ve never seen a juvenile before.”

According to Bogart, the extreme cold weather will make migratory birds more likely to appear in locations like Dartmouth as they head further south to escape the cold.

“It’s a real good time of year to see some unique birds show up at your local feeders and woods,” he said. “We’re kind of at a migratory corridor along the water.”

While not an endangered species, the red-headed woodpecker does not typically land in South Dartmouth, Bogart said.

According to the National Audubon Society, the species’ habitat typically ranges from the Rocky Mountains to southern Ontario in Canada. Sometimes, Bogart said, populations of red-headed woodpeckers, on rare occasions, can be found nesting as far east as Rhode Island.

“We’re kind of east of its typical range,” he said. “Some sightings can happen out here, but they’re usually few and far between.”

“It’s a species that thrives on mature forest and old hickory forests, which we have,” the bird expert said.

The young woodpecker already appears to be setting up a more permanent residence in Dartmouth, Bogart said. He noted that along with getting a quick bite to eat from the center’s feeders, the bird has begun to store acorns — which could be a sign of creating a winter habitat.

“It just kind of shows that any relatively common type of place can have a very uncommon species pass through,” he said.