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Red-bellied Woodpecker

When I think of red-bellied woodpeckers, I think of the south, where their “churr-churr” call is relatively constant, and has been for many years. Over the past 100 years, like the cardinal, titmouse and mockingbird, this woodpecker has extended its breeding range northward. By the mid-90’s red-bellied woodpeckers had reached northern New England; 2001 marked the …first recorded breeding of red-bellied woodpeckers in Vermont (Brattleboro). While the origin of their common name appears fairly elusive, they do, in fact, have a blush of red on their bellies, if inspected at very close range. The red-bellied woodpecker is often mistaken for the red-headed woodpecker, for obvious reasons – they both have red heads. However, the back of the red-headed woodpecker is mostly black (red-bellied backs are black and white barred), and there is a large white patch on each wing of the red-headed. You must look closely at the red feathers of red-bellied woodpeckers to distinguish males from females. The male’s red feathers extend from the back of its neck (nape), cap and forehead down to the base of its bill. The female has red feathers on her nape and at the base of her bill, but not on her cap or forehead. Even though they’ve been around for the past decade, it is still a thrill to see this handsome bird. (Photograph is of a female red-bellied woodpecker sighted in Hartland, Vermont yesterday.)

6 responses

  1. Hi Mary: Great photograph. I was wondering what model of camera you shot that photo with.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm

  2. A red breasted woodpecker has been coming to my suet feeder on a regular basis for more than a year now. I live off Rte. 5 in the Birch Hgts area in Windsor.

    January 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    • How lucky can you be!

      January 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    • I am not familiar with a red-breasted woodpecker. Could it be a woodpecker under another name such as red-breasted sapsucker?? Where did you see it? I am not familiar with Birch Hgts in Windsor. Just curious, thanks Marianne! Peter Deahl

      January 12, 2012 at 3:40 pm

  3. Jennifer

    We have had one at our feeder, this fall and winter. I had never seen one here (Hartland) before!

    January 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm

  4. Pat Nelson

    I delighted in a female who came to my feeder in south-central NH regularly in the winter of 2009-2010. Unfortunately, a Sharpshinned hawk selected her for its meal. I can understand why, as she was the plumpest, most beautiful bird around!

    January 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm

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