The Fabulous Red-Bellied Woodpecker

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One of our daily visitors is a male red-bellied woodpecker… and I must say he is growing on me! The more I observe this beautiful red-headed bird, the more I enjoy him.

I have seen our red-bellied woodpecker feast at a variety of feeder styles. He seems quite comfortable eating sunflower seeds out of our tray and squirrel-proof feeders and he also seems more than willing to use our whole peanut hopper feeder. I have seen him have some difficulty trying to land on the hopper feeder however, as he would flutter in the air and return to a branch before trying to make another attempt at grabbing on. He never seemed completely deterred though and would eventually land, grab a peanut, and fly off. He has never had this issue with a tray feeder as their is plenty of room to move around and secure a proper landing position.

From my personal observation I have also discovered that red-bellied woodpeckers enjoy peanuts just as much as jays and titmice. However, these woodpeckers seem to be a little more cautious than other bird varieties when it comes to procuring a peanut that is on the ground and not in a feeder. Despite their cautious nature, I have seen them brave the ground in order to quickly snatch a peanut and take off to find a safe spot in a nearby tree.

I have also witnessed some of their methods for opening a peanut’s shell and I have the pics to prove it! They take a peanut, stuff it into a crack in a tree, and then pound away as they work on getting the nut out of the shell.

Once they are able to get the nut out, I have seen one bird in particular make frequent attempts at storing the nuts behind the fascia of my neighbor’s roof!

Another endearing quality of this delightful bird is their unique and now familiar call. The call of a red-bellied woodpecker is a distinct “cha cha cha.” I have been to several local parks and have run along many trails and feel comforted when I hear the familiar sound of this bird. It is so neat to know that what was once “noise” to me is now a bird call I quickly recognize and can identify.

I do find it interesting that I rarely see the female red-bellied woodpecker and when I do she is always high up in a tree and never at our feeders. Perhaps the male is the only one on forage duty.

Hopefully we’ll get to see more of the Mrs. as the year progresses and I look forward to seeing how much they enjoy a suet feeder as the temperatures turn cooler this fall.

Happy Birding!


Image credit: Laura Y. Ceville @BirdHouseLove