A guy around the house


The elusive MALE Red-bellied Woodpecker, in the big oak tree in our front yard.

We have a female that visits our covered tray feeder (or porch railing) in the backyard at least every other day, but I almost never see the/ a male.


My daughter spotted him on a suet cake cage I had hung from the gingko tree in the front yard a few days ago. By the time I got my camera he was up in the tree.

The male has a red head from his beak to the back of his neck, but the female’s red starts further back on her head. They both have a red spot on their bellies that is not easy to see, so it’s kind of a dumb name.


The female, pictured above, during our last snow. She grabbed some peanuts from the porch railing.


The big old red oak tree is a favorite place for many birds including, it seems, the male Red-bellied Woodpecker.

These birds mainly search out arthropods on tree trunks. They may also catch insects in flight. They are omnivores, eating insects, fruits, nuts and seeds. Their breeding habitat is usually deciduous forests. They nest in the decayed cavities of dead trees, old stumps, or in live trees that have softer wood such as elms, maples, or willows; both sexes assist in digging nesting cavities. Areas around nest sites are marked with drilling holes to warn others away.

From Cornell Lab of Ornithology

You may sometimes see Red-bellied Woodpeckers wedge large nuts into bark crevices, then whack them into manageable pieces using their beaks. They also use cracks in trees and fence posts to store food for later in the year, a habit it shares with other woodpeckers in its genus.


Backyard Tips

Red-bellied Woodpeckers bring bright colors and entertaining action to bird feeders. If you live near any wooded patches, you may be able to attract them using feeders filled with suet (in winter), peanuts, and sometimes sunflower seeds. They’ve even been spotted drinking nectar from hummingbird feeders. Dead trees may encourage the birds to forage naturally or even nest in your yard, and they may feed on berry trees such as hawthorn or mountain-ash in fall or winter.

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