Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus).


Red-bellied woodpeckers seem to be poorly named since their crown and nape are red, while their bellies have a barely noticeable red tinge. Their misleading name stems from the fact that another woodpecker is named the red-headed woodpecker. He has a total red head and a black back with a big white splotch. The red-headed woodpecker is in this area of New Jersey only as a migrant during the summer. I’ve never seen one.


In these photos of a red-bellied woodpecker, you can see a reddish tinge on the belly if you look closely. This is a male. Females look the same except they have a grey crown instead of a red one. Juveniles are gray with no red crown or nape, according to Birds of New Jersey.


As you can see in the above photos, red-bellied woodpeckers enjoy both sunflower seeds and suet.

Red-bellied woodpeckers peck holes in rotten wood looking for insects. They also hammer acorns and berries into crevices of trees for winter food. This also according to Birds of New Jersey. I’m betting the squirrels find many of those food caches. But perhaps they can’t dig the goodies out. The photos above show a red-bellied woodpecker in the old magnolia tree close by the feeders. Lots of holes and crevices in this old tree.


Above a red-bellied woodpecker is sharing space with his nemesis, a European starling, and a female house sparrow. Starlings often chase woodpeckers out of their nests and destroy their eggs and young. Rotten birds. In the photo below, the European starling is contemplating his chances for getting some suet from the suet bottom feeder. What a nuisance.


The red-bellied woodpecker has hold of a sunflower seed. He is using his stiff tail feathers to help balance himself at the feeder. What a nifty bird to help brighten winter days.

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