Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Red-bellied Woodpecker

 Our suet feeder, hung on a branch of the maple tree just outside our kitchen window, is our prime way to watch birds close-up. It's usually serving the common sparrows, wrens, chickadees, nuthatches and the titmouse. We have the downy woodpecker as a regular visitor, too, both male and female.
 All of them are fairly tame at this point - or maybe just hungry as winter gets colder and windier - and they'll continue eating while I photograph through the glass. One of my favorites, though, is the most skittish: the Red-bellied woodpecker.

 You can see, even in this shot (the best of the past couple of days), that he's hungry enough to stay but he's looking over his shoulder all the while. Next to the pileated woodpecker, which I haven't seen in years and then only a time or two, this guy is the most fearful of people.
 About 10" long, he's one big bird. I love the white/black stripes on his body feathers. But, of course, that orange-red head commands attention all around. He has beautiful, piercing rust-brown eyes. Look how his rough, gray feet clamp onto the wires.
 Something as simple as a suet feeder produces these regular visitors. Though the common birds require no more than a passing glance, the woodpeckers command our attention at once. I'll hear Mom yell, "The big woodpecker is on the feeder," and I'll come running with my camera.
 What could be better on a cold, cloudy, winter's day than seeing the bright, sunny head of this wonderful bird?

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