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My my… What an exciting day it was when i saw one of these land in the yard, and it wasnt forty feet away in a shadow, in a tree, or, we werent doing that thing where he hops to the side of the tree facing away from me, and i scoot around to meet him, and he then continues back to the side i started on? Oh yeah… lots of that went on. lol But so worth it.

And actually, only the crappy, bottom picture is from my yard… the rest were forty feet up in a tree. i saw the guy making the hole, first, and then another male came down, and the sparring began. what a great day that was. same day i got the great horned owl, the yellow tail warbler (<– currently unposted, as i am posting my catalogue in alphabetical order, and still catching up) but anyway… i also got my first male goldfinch in breeding plumage. What a day. ❤ Love these guys. Honeored to have one visiting my yard….

In fact… im going to expand a bit into a personal experience i had with this woodpecker, in my yard, just the day before yesterday. Now, i generally do most of the watching i do of my yard, through this one window in my kitchen. If we go to the park, i obviously take a stroll. and i have also been known to stroll our development from time to time, Nikon in hand.

I had seen these birds, up in trees, exclusively, until like two weeks ago. now mind you, i only started taking an interest in ornithology last summer. AND i had a great time of it. though i didnt continue into winter, as i intend to this year… but anyway… all of a sudden, i reworked my entire bird area, onto the other, lusher, more tree-containing side of the house. MAN what started coming down…. lordy… but anyway…

One of these woodpeckers came down from on high and graced my little tiny butterfly tree, and its teeny suet block, with its presence. And i was amazed. Its so busy here. But he comes down, about once a day or so now, and eats up whatever is left of my morning suet smear, after the starlings and grackles and squirrels have a taste.

I love the pair of downy woodpeckers that come down as well, but, this red belly is just so, awesome, in its coloring, and feathers, i mean, look at that guys tail, in the last picture i posted above…. and the way their back has that barring on it… so pretty.

Anyway, i love this frigging woodpecker, and he is not afraid of a damn thing. So, i randomly, decided to go have a sit in one of our yard chairs, no camera, just to be out there, and whoever happened to land could get three seconds more used to my presence….or whatever, maybe its pipe dreams, but those cowbirds get bolder by the DAY. but i digress.

So there i am, sitting in the chair, still as a stone, the occasional e-cig vapor appearing as if by magic. And then, i saw something neat land in our tree, and after a minute or two of total stillness, like a statue i was… he hopped down a branch or twig or two, and fluttered right down to the butterfly bush, and got into the suet. and i was like, six feet away. i never had my nose itch so bad in my life, swear to god. but i did not scratch that shit. and we locked eyes a few times, just, peeping one another out. it was sublime.

Birding is the shit. And red bellied woodpeckers rule.

here is my usual copy past of the basic facts from most likely, allaboutbirds.com. and then a video from youtube of its calling :

“Red-bellied Woodpeckers are pale, medium-sized woodpeckers common in forests of the East. Their strikingly barred backs and gleaming red caps make them an unforgettable sight – just resist the temptation to call them Red-headed Woodpeckers, a somewhat rarer species that’s mostly black on the back with big white wing patches. Learn the Red-bellied’s rolling call and you’ll notice these birds everywhere.

Both Sexes
Length
9.4 in
24 cm
Wingspan
13–16.5 in
33–42 cm
Weight
2–3.2 oz
56–91 g
Relative Size
Same size as Hairy Woodpecker; three-quarters the size of a Northern Flicker
Other Names
  • Pic à ventre roux (French)

Cool Facts

  • You may sometimes see Red-bellied Woodpeckers wedge large nuts into bark crevices, then whack them into manageable pieces using their beaks. They also use cracks in trees and fence posts to store food for later in the year, a habit it shares with other woodpeckers in its genus.
  • For birds that nest in cavities, nest holes are precious turf. Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been known to take over the nests of other birds, including the much smaller (and endangered) Red-cockaded Woodpecker. But more often they’re victims to the aggressive European Starling. As many as half of all Red-bellied Woodpecker nests in some areas get invaded by starlings.
  • You may occasionally see a Red-bellied Woodpecker flying quickly and erratically through the forest, abruptly changing direction, alighting for an instant and immediately taking off again, keeping up a quick chatter of calls. Scientists categorize this odd behavior as a type of play that probably helps young birds practice the evasive action they may one day need.
  • A Red-bellied Woodpecker can stick out its tongue nearly 2 inches past the end of its beak. The tip is barbed and the bird’s spit is sticky, making it easier to snatch prey from deep crevices. Males have longer, wider-tipped tongues than females, possibly allowing a breeding pair to forage in slightly different places on their territory and maximize their use of available food.
  • The oldest known Red-bellied Woodpecker was 12 years 1 month old.

Habitat


Forest

You can find this species across most of the forests, woodlands, and wooded suburbs of the eastern United States, including oak-hickory forest, pine-hardwood forest, maple and tulip-poplar stands, and pine flatwoods. It’s a bit more common in river bottoms and wetlands, in the south of its range, and at elevations below about 2,000 feet.

Food


Insects

Though this bird mainly eats insects, spiders, and other arthropods, it eats plenty of plant material, too. In particular, acorns, nuts, and pine cones, as well as seeds extracted from annual and perennial plants and (particularly in fall and winter) fruits ranging from grapes and hackberries to oranges and mangoes. Occasionally eats lizards, nestling birds, even minnows.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Number of Broods
1-3 broods
Egg Length
0.9–1.1 in
2.2–2.9 cm
Egg Width
0.7–0.9 in
1.7–2.2 cm
Incubation Period
12 days
Nestling Period
24–27 days
Egg Description
Smooth white.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless, eyes closed.
Nest Description

Red-bellied Woodpeckers lay their eggs on the bed of wood chips left over after excavating their nest cavity. Nest holes are 22 to 32 centimeters deep, with a cylindrical living space of roughly 9 by 13 centimeters.

Nest Placement

Cavity

Nests in dead trees (hardwoods or pines), dead limbs of live trees, and fence posts. The same pair may nest in the same tree year after year, but typically excavate a new cavity each year, often placing the new one beneath the previous year’s.

Behavior


Bark Forager

These birds often stick to main branches and trunks of trees, where they hitch in classic woodpecker fashion, leaning away from the trunk and onto their stiff tail feathers as they search for food hiding in bark crevices. When nesting, males choose the site and begin to excavate, then try to attract a female by calling and tapping softly on the wood around or in the cavity. When a female accepts, she taps along with the male, then helps put the finishing touches on the nest cavity. At feeders, Red-bellied Woodpeckers will push aside most bird species other than Blue Jays.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

The Red-bellied Woodpecker has extended its breeding range north over the last 100 years. Populations are increasing throughout most of the range.

Voice:

 

 

Gigantic shout out to Cornell University and their ornithology program. I dont know if any of you will ever come through this lowly little peon blog, but if you do, all the bird facts i ever circulate, come directly from your websites. I look forward to Merlin, i think it is called, that you guys are working on. i try and play the ‘games’ when i can, to help it learn. ❤ Go team Sapsucker! Congrats on that Big Day!