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Red-Bellied Woodpecker - A Poorly Named Bird

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.

Male Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Red-Bellied Woodpecker

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.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker close-up
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.

 
 

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Adrian Snare      7:17 PM Sun 1/8/2017

AGREE
It took me months to se the bit of faded red on my woodpecker(male).
He just this second ''drilled'' off a large piece of suet and flew up to the Redbud, 7 feet away .. I am also fortunate to have several downy woodpeckers. I 'll try some peanut butter , out in the cold of York County .
 

Klayveer      5:20 PM Thu 12/24/2015

Wonderful shots of the red bellied<a href="http://lavcfvrpf.com"> weckpeodor</a>. I have them here too but usually don't get them to stay still long enough to photograph except when it snows and they eat the treats I put out when the weather is bad.
 

Kiichiro      10:56 AM Thu 10/15/2015

Great photos! I have both cimnog here too and always recognize the downy for it's smaller size. We have a pet' red squirrel in the backyard feeding off the ground from the bird feeders. I walked up to 2 feet away from it today and it didn't budge. Hubby and I were talking normally and it didn't move. Maybe it's deaf! I hung the sunflower silo and the suet feeder on the clothesline out of the squirrel's reach. So far so good. Pamela Gordon recently posted.. http://zgeucyd.com [url=http://hkxnseucegv.com]hkxnseucegv[/url] [link=http://orbvwzlsxm.com]orbvwzlsxm[/link]
 

Eoin      4:47 PM Mon 10/12/2015

How lucky you are to have such beauties close by and ready to pose for your cearams! We, too, are visited by many deer, but they choose to come at night, and leave only their calling cards in our back yard. Hope they decompose before Spring and Summer entice the girls to run barefoot through the grass!
 

Renee      1:52 PM Fri 1/23/2015

I agree, the common name of this bird is silly. I love this bird. I've had one in my backyard for 8 years. I imagine he must have a very busy life during the warmer months. During the winter, he can be seen all day, every day.
 

Marilyn McDonald      8:02 PM Fri 10/31/2014

We have a lot of windows in our living room. Today there was a loud thud and I knew a bird had hit a window. It was black and white speckled on it's back and had a red head. I googled it to see what it was called. I knew it was a woodpecker but thought it was called red headed woodpecker. You are right, it is poorly named. This one was a male. Was so upset because I was afraid he had broken his neck. No doubt, he had knocked himself silly. Happy ending. He got over the shock and flew away! Lake Hiwassee, Arcadia, OK
 

Patricia Hardy      1:56 PM Sun 10/5/2014

I live near Guthrie, Oklahoma and have several Red-bellies that come in daily. I was lucky this year to spot the courtship, mating, raising the young and first flight of the little ones. then the pair taking them to our Suets and Dad feeding them until they were as big as himself. I photograph the family intire spring and summer. It was an intreging year to say the least!
 

Patricia Hardy      1:55 PM Sun 10/5/2014

I live near Guthrie, Oklahoma and have several Red-bellies that come in daily. I was lucky this year to spot the courtship, mating, raising the young and first flight of the little ones. then the pair taking them to our Suets and Dad feeding them until they were as big as himself. I photograph the family intire spring and summer. It was an intreging year to say the least!
 

Michele      12:29 PM Sun 8/18/2013

I live east of Draper Lake in OKC. I have fed the birds for years a song bird mix I get from Sam's and have been blessed with a wide variety of birds incuding the Red Bellied Woodpecker. Today I saw a first, a male was feeding either a female or an immature woodpecker, as it was almost his size, but without the red markings. Since it's the middle of August I can't imagine he's wooing a female, but it also seems late to still be caring for a baby. Any suggestions? My place is also home to Painted and Indigo Buntings and Wild Turkeys and Roadrunners.
 

Michael Webb      8:31 AM Thu 6/6/2013

I put a suet feeder in my back yard and cooked homemade suet for them. I have several come to the feeder daily. I use 1/2 lard, 1/2 peanut butter, enough raisons to see them, enough corn meal and Quaker Oats to stiffen it up. The feeder is one of the caged round ones. I put a mesh over the outside, except for the bottom. The woodpeckers hang from it and eat from the bottom. If you email me, I can send you the full recipe and a picture of what I have done to attract them. On another note, I get the Downy and Hairy woodpeckers too. What I did was cut a tree limb that had 1.5 inch limbs from it. Used a spade bit to hollow out the branch limbs. I cram them full of good ole peanut butter and the little woodpeckers are back and forth many times each day to cling and eat. webb.maw@gmail.com
 

Michael Webb      8:30 AM Thu 6/6/2013

I put a suet feeder in my back yard and cooked homemade suet for them. I have several come to the feeder daily. I use 1/2 lard, 1/2 peanut butter, enough raisons to see them, enough corn meal and Quaker Oats to stiffen it up. The feeder is one of the caged round ones. I put a mesh over the outside, except for the bottom. The woodpeckers hang from it and eat from the bottom. If you email me, I can send you the full recipe and a picture of what I have done to attract them. On another note, I get the Downy and Hairy woodpeckers too. What I did was cut a tree limb that had 1.5 inch limbs from it. Used a spade bit to hollow out the branch limbs. I cram them full of good ole peanut butter and the little woodpeckers are back and forth many times each day to cling and eat.
 

brownie47      10:01 AM Wed 5/8/2013

We just had one fly into our dining room window. I was afraid he had broken his neck but after an hour's rest he was up and away. Good thing I saw him before the cats did!

 

Jdisbrow      8:34 AM Mon 10/15/2012

My wife and are very lucky we hosted two Red bellied woodpeckers male& female in our Midwest city backyard this summer. What a sight.
 


Uplifting Visions
a guide to happiness, good health, and success
Charly Mann in a Hawaiian shirt
by Charly Mann

From the age of seven I have been enchanted with the idea of living happily ever after, and have made it a life quest to find that answer. I have spoken to hundreds of people – usually older and wiser than me, and read countless books and articles on the subject. In my website Uplifting Visions I share what I consider the best insights I have learned about achieving happiness in life.



Oklahoma Birds Listed by Color

Red
House Finch - male (carpodacus mexicanus)
Purple Finch - male (carpodacus purpureus)
Northern Cardinal - male (cardinalis cardinalis)
Painted Bunting - male (passerina ciris)
Summer Tanager - male (piranga rubra)

Orange
Baltimore Oriole - male (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - male (icterus spurius)

Yellow
Yellow Warbler (dendroica petechia )
Baltimore Oriole - female (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - female (icterus spurius)
Summer Tanager - female (piranga rubra)
Yellow Goldfinch - male (carduelis tristis)
Western Kingbird (tyrannus verticalis)
Eastern Meadowlark (sturnella magna)

Green
Malard - male (anas platyrhynchos)
Dark-eyed Junco - female (junco hyemalis)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris)
Painted Bunting - female (passerina ciris)
Green Heron (butorides virescens)

Blue
Barn Swallow (hirundo rustica)
Belted Kingfisher (ceryle alcyon)
Blue Jay (cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Grosbeak - male (guiraca caerulea)
Eastern Bluebird (sailia sialis)
Indigo Bunting - male (passerina cyanea)
Purple Martin - male (progne subis)

Grey
Great Blue Heron (ardea herodias)
Carolina Chickadee (poecile carolinensis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (sitta canadensis)
Grey Catbird (dumetella carolinensis)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (regulus calendula)
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher (tyrannus forficatus)
White-breasted Nuthatch (sitta carolinensis)
Tufted Titmouse (baelophus bicolor)
American Robin (turdus migratorius)
Northern Mockingbird (mimus polyglottos)
Mississippi Kite (ictinia mississippiensis)
Dickcissel (spiza americana)

Black
American Crow (corvus brachyrhynchos)
Brown-headed Cowbird - male (molothrus ater)
European Starling (sturnus vulgaris)
Common Grackle (quiscalus quiscula)
Red-winged Blackbird - male (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Towhee (pipilo maculatus)
Turkey Vulture (cathartes aura)

Black & White
American Bald Eagle (haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Black-billed Magpie (pica hudsonia)
Downey Woodpecker (picoides pubescens)
Red-Bellied Woodpecker (melanerpes carolinus)
Purple Martin - female (progne subis)
Eastern Kingbird (tyrannus tyrannus)
Dark-eyed Junco - male (junco hyemalis)
Loggerhead Shrike (lanius ludovicianus)

Brown
American Kestrel (falco sparverius)
Blue Grosbeak - female (guiraca caerulea)
Brown-headed Cowbird - female (molothrus ater)
Brown Thrasher (toxostoma rufum)
Common Nighthawk (chordeiles minor)
Carolina Wren (thryothorus ludovicianus)
Cedar Waxwing (bombycilla cedrorum)
Greater Roadrunner (geococcyx californianus)
Killdeer (charadrius vociferus)
Northern Bobwhite (colinus virginianus)
Red-tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis)
Cliff Swallow (petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Horned Lark (eremophila alpestris)
House Finch - female (carpodacus mexicanus)
Northern Flicker (colaptes auratus)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (coccyzus americanus)
Mourning Dove (zenaida macroura)
Malard - female (anas platyrhynchos)
Purple Finch - female (carpodacus purpureus)
House Sparrow (passer domesticus)
Indigo Bunting - female (passerina cyanea)
Red-winged Blackbird - female (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Sandpiper (actitis macularia)
Upland Sandpiper (bartramia longicauda)
Northern Cardinal - female (cardinalis cardinalis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Yellow Goldfinch - female (carduelis tristis)
Canada Goose (branta canadensis)

Various
Wild Birds of Northeast OK

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