We have had quite a bit of bird activity at the bird feeders today, although they are not feeding as franticly as they were when the temps were super cold a few weeks ago. The red-bellied woodpeckers are some of my favorites. We have at least a pair that live in the woods behind the house.
The male and female look very similar, but the female has red only at the nape of her neck and a slightly paler red spot above her beak. The male has red all the way to his beak. They have beautiful black and white wings.
Before the snow fell, the male spent time on the patio using the spaces between the stones to hold the seeds as he tapped them open.
Now, you are probably asking yourself why this is called a "red-bellied" woodpecker when the red is on its head? Good question. The answer comes in 2 parts. Part one is that there is another woodpecker with a better claim to the name red-headed. The real red-headed woodpecker's entire head (in males and females) is a bright, glaring red. The second part is, that if you look closely and the bird is cooperative, you can see a bit of red on its lower belly.
Take a close look at this male's belly. You can just barely make out a little red just in front of its tail.
Here is a slightly better view of the red on the lower belly of the female.
So there you have it; they were named red-bellied for a characteristic that is not visible more often than it is. Never-the-less, they are handsome, easily recognized birds that add a bright spot to any birder's garden.
We have another woodpecker, the pileated, that we often hear up in the woods, but seldom see except as a large shape flying from tree to tree. They are crow-sized with a wingspan of up to almost 2.5 ft. One recent day, a male came to check out the feeders and spent a little time on a tree beside the house. I actually had the good fortune to have my camera at hand to get the shots below of my favorite local woodpecker.
Isn't he grand? You can tell it is a male because of the red whiskers at the base of its beak.
These woodpeckers were certainly the brightest spots in the gray January day. I hope you found bright spots in your day too.