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Changing of the Guard

5-11-18 red-bellied woodpeckers3 _U1A2313

In approximately 85% of bird species, both the male and female of a mating pair contribute to the feeding and guarding of their offspring. Red-bellied Woodpeckers are of this ilk. Both members of a pair help excavate a nest cavity, incubate the eggs, brood the young and feed the nestlings for up to 10 weeks after they fledge. As seen in this photograph, when tending to their nestlings, one member of a pair wastes no time in departing as soon as its mate appears.

Thanks to the extension of the Red-bellied Woodpecker’s range northward, even northern New Englanders now have the opportunity to observe the nesting behavior of these medium-sized woodpeckers. (Photo: female Red-bellied Woodpecker leaves nest as food-bearing male arrives. Note continuous red crown on male, which is broken in female.) (Thanks to Sadie Brown for photo op.)

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15 responses

  1. Midge, Sunapee NH

    once again, your photography is absolutely extraordinary! Glad you have the new equipment to keep it going 😊

    May 11, 2018 at 8:06 am

    • I only have the equipment thanks to the incredible generosity of my NC readers!!!

      May 11, 2018 at 1:34 pm

  2. Alice Pratt

    Wonderful photo, Sadie! Such a neat excavation hole.

    May 11, 2018 at 8:22 am

  3. Barbara Holmes

    Fabulous photo! I have a pair here in SC that come to a peanut butter suet feeder on my porch. I feed them year round, albeit a small part of their diet. They are not at all shy and will come while I’m sitting out within ten feet of me.

    May 11, 2018 at 8:46 am

  4. Marilyn

    Good catch, Sadie! Perfect photo.

    May 11, 2018 at 9:47 am

    • Pat

      I think it’s Mary’s photo, but Sadie told her where to watch.

      May 11, 2018 at 10:57 am

      • Exactly, Pat! But Sadie’s as good a photographer as her mother!

        May 11, 2018 at 1:20 pm

  5. Dede & Ken Heath

    Wow! After several years of watching a pair red-bellies here in midcoast Maine, I’m delighted to find them welcomed to your blog, Mary Holland. Now, if I could just find the tree in which they’re nesting . . . But what a photo!

    May 11, 2018 at 10:13 am

  6. Barbara Hager

    I went to the yellow donate button, but was unable to enter a dollar amount. System unresponsive.

    May 11, 2018 at 10:18 am

    • Thank you so much for attempting to donate, Barbara. I don’t know what the problem could be, and WordPress handles everything on that end. They are next to impossible to contact, but I will try. If you choose to, you can send a check to me at 134 Densmore Hill Road, Windsor, VT 05089. Thank you for even thinking of donating! Mary

      May 11, 2018 at 1:25 pm

  7. Pat

    Wow! What a photo!

    May 11, 2018 at 10:56 am

  8. Wow, Mary, that is an OUTSTANDING photo gtaph of the red-bellied woodpecker pair!!! One of your many winners, maybe the BEST EVER!!!

    May 11, 2018 at 12:13 pm

  9. Susan

    Excellent photo, Sadie Brown! thank you for sharing.

    May 11, 2018 at 12:18 pm

  10. I love this bird, and usually only see it at my folks’ place in Ohio. Look forward to seeing them here!

    May 11, 2018 at 3:45 pm

  11. sue

    What a fabulous photo!!! Took my breath away!

    May 11, 2018 at 5:17 pm

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