As a wildlife photographer, I am constantly amazed by the incredible creatures I encounter on my journeys. Today, I want to share an extraordinary experience I had at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, where I was fortunate enough to photograph a magnificent Red-headed Woodpecker. Join me as I recount this encounter and provide unique insights into the captivating world of this beautiful bird species.

Photo 1: The Red-Headed Woodpecker in its Natural Habitat

While driving along the auto tour road near the freshly mowed area where the refuge had planted trees, my attention was captured by a flurry of activity. Among the lush greenery, the Red-headed Woodpeckers stood out with their vibrant plumage. These striking birds boast a crimson-red head, in striking contrast with their snow-white breasts and jet-black wings. Perched on newly planted tree saplings, they had found their ideal hunting grounds, taking advantage of the abundance of insects thriving in this recently cleared area.

Red-Headed Woodpecker on a Small Tree

Red-Headed Woodpecker on a Small Tree

Photo 2: A Glimpse into the Woodpecker’s Feeding Habits

Seizing the opportunity, I parked my pickup truck on the road, allowing me to observe and photograph the Red-headed Woodpecker up close. Witnessing their feeding habits was truly fascinating. With remarkable speed and agility, they took to the air, skillfully snatching insects on the wing using their powerful beaks. After a successful catch, they swiftly returned to the comfort of the newly planted tree saplings, demonstrating their versatility in perching at different angles. Their strong feet firmly clung to the trunks, showcasing their exceptional grip. Although capturing the precise moment of mid-air insect capture proved challenging, I was awestruck by their ingenious hunting skills and their ability to navigate the skies in search of sustenance.

Red-Headed Woodpecker Perched on a Sapling

Red-Headed Woodpecker Perched on a Sapling

Unique Insight: An Ecological Niche

The Red-headed Woodpecker’s preference for mowed areas and newly planted trees at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge offers a unique glimpse into their ecological niche. These birds thrive in open woodlands, savannas, and forest edges. The recently cleared spaces inadvertently provide them with easy access to their favored food source— insects residing in the trees and shrubs. The refuge’s thoughtful management practices, including tree planting and periodic mowing, inadvertently create an ideal environment for these charismatic woodpeckers to flourish.

Photo 3: A Moment of Serenity

As I focused my lens on the Red-headed Woodpecker, I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by its sheer beauty. The gentle sunlight filtering through the surrounding foliage cast a soft, enchanting glow on its feathers, accentuating the intricate patterns of its plumage. In this serene moment, immortalized in my photographs, the woodpecker embodied grace and tranquility.

Red-Headed Woodpecker on a Delicate Sapling

Red-Headed Woodpecker on a Delicate Sapling


Encounters like these remind us of the breathtaking diversity that exists within our natural world. The Red-headed Woodpecker, with its stunning colors and adaptability, serves as a testament to the intricate tapestry of life. Through keen observation and the preservation of their habitat, we can ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to witness the wonders of these avian marvels. As a wildlife photographer, it is my privilege to share these moments with you, inspiring a deeper appreciation for the captivating beauty of nature.

Equipment Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: Canon RF 800 mm F11

Technical Details: (Second Photo)

  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: June 17, 2023 (09:55 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f11
  • Shutter speed: 1/1000
  • ISO: 1000 (Auto)
  • Exp. Comp.: 0
  • Focal Length: 800 mm