Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



Maddux, "Have the Northern Cardinal and the Red-bellied Woodpecker Expanded Their Ranges in Nebraska Recently, 1968-1987?" from Nebraska Bird Review (December 1989) 57(4).


Copyright 1989, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) and the Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) are both common permanent residents of Nebraska (Johnsgard 1980: Bray, Padelford, and Silcock i986). Over at least the last four decades there have been published reports that the two species have been expanding their respective ranges to the west and to the north. In the case of the Northern Cardinal the range expansion has been extensive in distance and has occurred over a long period of time. "Originally a bird of the south, the Kentucky Cardinal, or Virginia Redbird, has pushed its way northward until it is now a resident of the lower Hudson valley, northern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and South Dakota" (Harrison 1948). Other researchers have noted and/or described the considerable extension of the northern range limits of the species since the turn of the century (Krause, and Froiland 1956, Johnsgard 1979a, AOU 1983).