Friday, February 02, 2007

Don't Call Me Red-headed

Red bellied woodpecker at suet feederWhen the Red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) comes to the suet feeder, the other birds leave in respect. The banging is heard all through the house as the Red-bellied pecks at the frozen suet.

About 10 inches long, the Red-bellied is the largest woodpecker that nests in our trees.

According to the Audubon Society's annual bird census figures, the Red-bellies are increasing in SW Michigan. We've happily noted the increase in our neighborhood.

Red headed woodpeckerThis picture (swiped, not taken by me) is a Red-headed woodpecker ((Melanerpes erythrocephalus).

Frequently casual bird observers will call the Red-bellied woodpecker a Red-headed woodpecker because the Red-bellied has a partially red head. Since Red-headed woodpeckers are deep woods birds and rarely seen in our yard, I get jealous when I hear someone has spotted one. So, if you spot a Red-bellied please get the name right and spare me the sin of envy.

Red belly on the red bellied woodpeckerMr. Redbelly fully seconds the motion that you not call him a Red-headed woodpecker.

He knew I was taking pictures and twisted around to flaunt his red belly at the camera so you can see how he earned his name.

Female red-bellied woodpecker at suet feederThis is Mrs. Redbelly.

She's a little shorter than the male and has a gray cap on the top of her head in place of his continuous red.