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9 April 2019 Red-bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) scavenging: A possible alternate dietary substrate
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Red-bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) are insectivores that consume mainly insects found within trees but may also feed on seeds and small vertebrates. On rare, isolated occasions, Red-bellied Woodpeckers opportunistically scavenge carcasses or carrion. Here we document the first recorded instances of repeated and sustained visits by Red-bellied Woodpeckers to a deer carcass presumably for the supplementation of diet via scavenging. Between December 2016 and March 2017, a tree-mounted, motion sensor trail camera directed toward a deer carcass, on a site in Winona, Minnesota, captured 1,815 photos of Red-bellied Woodpeckers from 381 separate visits. We analyzed the photos to determine if time of day or month affected the frequency of pictures of Red-bellied Woodpeckers at the carcass. The timing of Red-bellied Woodpecker visits was not uniformly distributed with more pictures being taken during the middle of the day; however, the frequency of photographs did not differ by survey month. Results of this study are useful for expanding our understanding of Red-bellied Woodpecker diets and the role that scavenging may play in diet supplementation during winter.

Mark P. Leonard and Benjamin P. Pauli "Red-bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) scavenging: A possible alternate dietary substrate," The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 131(1), 187-191, (9 April 2019).
Received: 11 December 2017; Accepted: 6 October 2018; Published: 9 April 2019

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