Article and photos by Kathryn Mann
Once or twice a year I am usually lucky enough to see a Red-Bellied Woodpecker on a hardwood tree along a trail I walk along in Bartlesville.
Though someone got the bright idea of calling these beautiful birds Red-Bellied Woodpeckers their belly is almost entirely white except for a small patch of faded red on its abdomen, which is usually very difficult to see. Its red head and the black-and-white zebra pattern on its back are much more distinguishing features on this bird, and could have inspired a more accurately descriptive name for it. The red hood of the male extends from his forehead to the back of his neck, while on the female only the back of the neck is red.
Male Red-Bellied Woodpeckers have a wider tongue tip and longer bill than the female which allow them to find insects in the crevices of the trunk of trees. Females do most of their foraging on tree limbs.
Male Red-Bellied Woodpecker in Bartlesville, Oklahoma
European Starlings take over up to half the nest holes in trees of The Red-bellied Woodpeckers.
Red-Bellied Woodpeckers eat lots of insects including ants and flies.
They are solitary birds and except during mating season when they can be found in pairs, are usually seen alone.
Red-Bellied Woodpeckers can live as long as 20 years in the wild.