When I saw that red head bobbling up and down while gobbling the feed, I figured that our Red-headed Woodpecker, which we had named "Rudy," had returned after being AWOL for several months. I suppose I've always assumed that red-headed woodpeckers were, well, Red-headed Woodpeckers.
Ah, but after a quick check with my bird books, I discovered that today's visitor was actually a Red-bellied Woodpecker. The difference is mainly the color and markings of the back. The red-bellied guy has distinctive black-and-white bars up and down its body from head to tail, while the red-headed fellow has a black back. Both have red heads, and both put on a real show with their antics at the feeder.
|The Red-bellied Woodpecker…|
The authoritative Cornell Lab of Ornithology, on the other hand, says this about the Red-bellied Woodpecker in an "All About Birds" squib:
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are pale, medium-sized woodpeckers common in forests of the East. Their strikingly barred backs and gleaming red caps make them an unforgettable sight – just resist the temptation to call them Red-headed Woodpeckers, a somewhat rarer species that's mostly black on the back with big white wing patches. Learn the Red-bellied's rolling call and you’ll notice these birds everywhere.
|… and the Red-headed Woodpecker|
We will welcome all species of woodpeckers at our feeders. Hmmm, wonder if the red-headed and red-bellied characters would ever share the nuts, seeds, and fruit provided for them -- with each other, or with other bright and beautiful birds, like the Northern Cardinals.
© Robert G.Holland 2015