Always brightens my day to see this bird

Adult Red-bellied Woodpecker saying Hello

Adult male Red-bellied Woodpecker

It always brightens my day when I see (or hear) a Red-bellied Woodpecker!  I’ve grown to expect them, especially in the wooded areas along our wetland paths. Never quite understood why they seem like such a special treat till I realized recently that they are much more prevalent here in Florida than they ever were in New York State, where I lived most of my life. And . . . they apparently like the same preserves that I frequent.

The Red-bellied Woodpecker climbs up, down, and around tree trunks and branches, feeding on insects, fruits, seeds, and sap that it finds in the nooks and crannies. Their brightly-colored heads and zebra-like stripes are very striking.

The bright red top and nape can be deceiving . . .

The bright red top and nape can be deceiving . . .

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is: “primarily a bird of the southeast, where its rolling calls are familiar sounds in swamps and riverside woods” (https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/red-bellied-woodpecker). These photos of a male adult in one of his favorite trees were taken on a recent evening. He and his friends frequently entertain birders and photographers by stopping to pose at eye level, right in plain view.

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Though it’s often hard to see, the Red-bellied Woodpecker DOES actually have a pale reddish ‘wash’ on its lower abdomen.

It’s easy to imagine why people sometimes mistake this bird for the more rare Red-headed Woodpecker. But once you see a Red-headed Woodpecker, you’ll realize how different they look. His entire head and neck are solid red, and his back, tail and wings are black with prominent white patches, as in the beautiful photo on this Audubon website link: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/red-headed-woodpecker. Another major difference is that the agile Red-headed Woodpecker catches insects in mid-air.

Juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker

Juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker, I think

When I came across this little fellow with the grayish-brown head this morning, I thought maybe I’d discovered a whole new species, since there was no sign of red! ;-D But then I came home and looked in my field guides, only to discover that the juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker has a grayish-brown head – so it was undoubtedly just one of the local ‘kids’.

More interesting info can be found at – http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-bellied_Woodpecker/lifehistory

24 thoughts on “Always brightens my day to see this bird

  1. Your photos are wonderful, BJ — so close and clear, highlighting all the glorious details of this beautiful woodpecker. The tree he’s on looks like it’s been hosting woodpeckers and sapsuckers for quite some time. Lovely post. 😀

    • How nice it would be to have red bellied woodpeckers so close by that you could look at them from the window, and right in your yard! I feel lucky that they frequent these preserves that I visit so often.

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