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Posts Tagged ‘Melanerpes carolinus’

If you talk to your dentist, you’ll certainly be told that cavities are bad, but your perspective might change if you were a bird. I am not sure if this Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) was checking out potential nesting sites yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge or merely looking for insects, but it sure did give this tree cavity a careful examination.

There was definitely no need to fill this cavity.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am rarely able to see the red belly of the Red-bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) that I occasionally spot, but the light was coming from the right direction on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge to illuminate the reddish-brown color of this woodpecker’s belly.

When I first started taking photos of birds, I remember seeing the bright red color of a woodpecker like this one and thinking it must be called a “red-headed woodpecker.” I am somewhat more knowledgeable about birds now and have a greater appreciation for the difficulties associated with identifying them. In particular, I have learned that you often cannot rely on the name of a bird to identify its key features.

Red belly or not, I knew what this bird was as soon as I saw it, but it was nevertheless wonderful that it chose to pose so nicely for me. One of my Facebook viewers said that it reminded her of a similar pose in the movie The Lion King. It turns out that The Lion King is one of my favorite movies, and I was thrilled when I just now watched a You Tube video of The Circle of Life, one of the songs in the movie that features the rock outcropping that looks like the branch in my photo. I was particularly drawn to the beauty of the birds in the opening moments of the video. It is worth checking out if you have never seen it before or even if you have.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The red on the back of the head of this Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) seemed to be a perfect match for the colorful fall foliage this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Autumn is my favorite season of the year and the weather on the day that I took this shot was almost perfect—even the woodpecker seems to be smiling.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Even familiar birds can look cool and different when viewed from an unusual angle. I photographed this Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) Monday morning at Huntley Meadows Park. I was shooting almost straight up and the subject was mostly backlit and in the shadows, but I could just see the red color at the edge of the head.

As an added bonus, you can just see what appears to be the touch of red on the bird’s belly that is responsible for its name—normally you can’t see it and wonder why it is called “red-bellied.”

Red-bellied Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Every creature enjoys a brief moment at the top, even this humble little Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park. After working diligently at the lower levels of the tree, the woodpecker climbed to the top to enjoy the scenery and to rest for a short while.

All too quickly it was time to go back to work for this tireless and energetic little bird.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am not sure if it is the cooler autumn weather or the impending winter, but all of the sudden the trees are alive with the sounds of woodpeckers. I can hear them pecking away  and calling out to each other high in the trees. Unfortunately there are still a lot of leaves on the trees, making it hard to spot these busy birds.

On Friday at Huntley Meadows Park, I did manage to get a clear view of a beautiful little Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) feverishly  foraging in a tree. Suddenly the woodpecker turned its head in my direction as though it wanted to proudly show me the bright red fruit that it had discovered.  With the fruit firmly in its bill and a slight smile on its face, the woodpecker flew away, perhaps to cache its find for another day.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Several years ago when I first started taking photos of birds, I remember how excited I was when I photographed a woodpecker that looked like this one. It had red on its head, so surely, I thought, it was a Red-headed Woodpecker.  Oh, how naive I was back then about the complexities of identifying birds.

Sometimes with age comes a bit of wisdom. I am now pretty confident in identifying this bird as a Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus), though I must confess that I have never seen a single spot of red on the belly of a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Like the Red-headed Woodpecker that I featured yesterday, the Red-bellied Woodpecker gathers and stores acorns for later use. As one of my readers pointed out in a comment on a previous posting, it is a mystery  how the woodpecker remembers where it has stored the acorns and how it keeps other creatures from stealing its ‘treasures.”

Red-bellied Woodpecker

redbelly1_7Dec_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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