Thursday, January 15, 2015

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Last week (January 7) this gorgeous Red-bellied woodpecker visited our suet feeder. We had three species of woodpeckers visit within a day's time. Since then, we've had none. Surely this interest in our feeder was caused by the imminent winter weather.

 A Red-bellied woodpecker seems oddly named since, on quick examination, it is the remarkable red head that commands our first attention. In fact, says the Audubon Society, "A red patch on the lower abdomen is seldom visible in the field." The head, of course, is truly striking ... from anywhere, from any angle at all.

 This bird - Centurus carolinus - is the one I often hear when I am outside. Audubon describes the call as chuck-chuck-chuck but it reminds me of an almost rapid barking sound, quick, unhappy barks. 

 Here the red belly patch is visible. Besides the red head, most notable about this bird is the black and white striped back. That's why the bird is also called a Zebraback.

Who you lookin' at? 

 I am always pleased when the birds hang around long enough to be photographed. Our suet feeder hangs in a maple tree just outside the kitchen window. If I back up a few steps, move into the shadows, I may use my 20x telephoto to bring the birds up close.
 Until recently, this bird was much more common in the southern states. We are lucky to be enjoying a northward trend.

Later: On January 17, he came back, sat in the maple outside the kitchen window and seemed to watch me doing the dishes. Beautiful bird!

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