The female red-bellied woodpecker has a medieval hairdo

red-bellied woodpecker female

May I present Lady Red-Belly.

Male and female Red-bellied Woodpeckers both have red caps, but the female’s starts further back on her head. Reminds me of a particular hair style of fashionable medieval women…


Portrait of a Young Girl, Petrus Christus, 1470

She reflects the Gothic ideal of elongated facial features, narrow shoulders, tightly pinned hair and an almost unnaturally long forehead, achieved through tightly pulled-back hair which has been plucked at the top.

Here is the male, with his full cap (Wikipedia pic in the public domain)…


It is an interesting difference.

Adults are mainly light gray on the face and underparts; they have black and white barred patterns on their back, wings and tail. Adult males have a red cap going from the bill to the nape; females have a red patch on the nape and another above the bill. The reddish tinge on the belly that gives the bird its name is difficult to see in field identification.

red-bellied woodpecker

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker at the platform feeder.

You can see the male and female difference in the top right corner of this Audubon painting, with the male on the right…

woodpeckers audubon

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