Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the red-bellied woodpecker. I’ve always found the name of this one to be rather funny, as it doesn’t have a visible red belly, but it has a visible red stripe/cap instead. But it got the name red-bellied, because of the fact there is another woodpecker with a totally red-head (hence, the name of that woodpecker is the red-headed woodpecker).
This woodpecker is found primarily in the southeast, though it has been reestablishing itself further north into southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and parts of New York and Rhode Island (to name a few states).
The red-bellied woodpecker is an omnivorous woodpecker—it does eat insects, but it will also eat berries, nuts, and seeds. This bird is a regular visitor to both of our suet feeders in the backyard during the year. They forage for insects on trees, they also will perch on branches to pick off berries and nuts from small limbs as well.
When it comes to nesting, the male may start to excavate several different holes, then allow the female to select the one which will be used for the nest that year. They will nest in a cavity (either within some type of dead wood (tree, telephone pole, utility pole, fence post, tree stump) that they themselves finish excavating, or a nest box, or even another nesting site that had been abandoned by other woodpeckers.
The female will lay somewhere between three to eight eggs (with the average being either four or five), both parents will incubate the eggs, with the male taking the night shift and part of the day (that way both parents can feed during the time), and it will take about two weeks for the eggs to hatch.
The young are feed by both parents, and leave the nest within three to four weeks of hatching. Depending on the type of year, the parents may continue to feed the young for another six weeks or so, even after they’ve left the nest.
I’m pretty sure that they’re nesting somewhere in the neighborhood, but I’ve yet to really see a young red-bellied woodpecker at the feeders. Though if they do come to the feeder, I’d probably confuse them with the downy or hairy woodpeckers. But that will be another goal–get a good picture of a immature red-bellied woodpecker.