Congratulations to vtjohn for winning the November 2018 Vermont Atlas of Life iNaturalist photo-observation of the month. The image of a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker was the most popular photo-observation.
In the early 1900s, Red-headed Woodpeckers followed crops of American Beech nuts in northern forests, which are much less extensive today. At the same time, the great chestnut blight killed virtually all American Chestnut trees, removing another abundant food source. As a result, Red-headed Woodpeckers may now be more attuned to acorn abundance than beech nuts.
They were considered common in western Vermont and rare to uncommon in the remainder of the state until recently. During the first Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas (1976-1981), the species was found in 17 survey blocks, but 25 years later during the second atlas it was not found breeding anywhere in the state. Other breeding bird atlases in the region have found similar declines. Most records in Vermont eBird over the last decade are during the non-breeding season (see map).
Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist and you can vote this month by clicking ‘fav’ on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!