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Posts Tagged ‘Red-headed Woodpecker’

A Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) and a Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) seemed to be eyeing each other with intense curiosity this past Friday at Huntley Meadows Park when they both chose to occupy the same tree at the same time.

Redheads have a mysterious attraction, it seems, in the bird world as well as in the human world.

Belted Kingfisher and Red-headed Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I could hear the call of Red-headed woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) all around my head on Saturday at Huntley Meadows Park, but they remained hidden in the trees. Finally one of them stepped out of its comfort zone and went out on a limb, and I was able to capture this image.

Red-headed woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes I have this feeling that the birds and other creatures that I photograph are playing games with me. On Monday this Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) seemed to be playing peek-a-boo with me at Huntley Meadows Park. It was hiding at the top of a broken-off tree and at irregular intervals would show its face for just a split second and then immediately pull it back.

As I look at the woodpecker’s head I can see streaks of brown, rather than the solid red of an adult, suggesting that this may be a juvenile redhead—maybe that’s why it likes to play games.

Red-headed Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On a cool and blustery morning at Huntley Meadows Park, it seemed like most of the birds were in sheltered locations yesterday, protected from the biting wind. I did manage, though, to spot a Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) busily at work high in the trees and was able to get shots from a number of different angles as the woodpecker moved about.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Woodpeckers are amazingly energetic, but I guess they too sometimes need to take a break. On Monday I saw a Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) hard at work on a cavity at Huntley Meadows Park. Eventually the woodpecker climbed inside the cavity and, after looking around a bit, appeared to close its eyes to take a little nap.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the Red-headed Woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) at Huntley Meadows Park, though it is a strain on the neck trying to spot them, because they are always high in the trees. There an area along one of the paths at the park where I often hear the chatter of the Red-headed Woodpeckers, but it is rare for me to get an unobstructed view of one of them.

This past weekend, however, I managed to spot one of them poking about near the tip of a broken-off tree. It was a bit frustrating at first, because the bird kept its head pointed away for me, but eventually it turned its head and let me get a profile shot.

I lost sight of the woodpecker a few seconds and though it probably was hiding behind the tree. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when a bright red head suddenly peeked out from inside the tree cavity and I managed to capture that moment. Later, I was able to capture an image of a Red-headed Woodpecker with an acorn in its bill—at this time of the year, acorns seem to be one of the main food sources for these woodpeckers.

Red-headed  Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Woodpeckers are so energetic that it is rare for me to spot one that is not in constant motion. Recently, however, I was fortunate to spot a Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) that seemed to be taking a break from its normal activities.

The woodpecker was relaxing on an exposed tree in the sunlight on a beautiful late autumn day. The red color of its head was even more spectacular than usual. Amazingly the woodpecker did not fly away immediately when I began to take some photos and actually changed its position a few times, almost like it was posing for me.

I hope that I have not oversaturated my readers with woodpecker shots, but I just love the attitude and look of these beautiful birds, especially the spectacular Red-headed Woodpecker.

Red-headed Woodpeckers

Red-headed Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As winter approaches, squirrels are not the only creatures gathering and storing acorns. Red-headed woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) also cache acorns in crevices of trees for consumption at a later point in time. Recently these beautiful birds seemed really busy and I was happy to capture some photos of one of them in action.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Facebook reminded me earlier today that exactly two years ago I posted a photo of a Red-headed Woodpecker and as soon as I saw it, I realized that it is an almost perfect companion to the photo that I posted yesterday.  Yesterday’s image showed the flight feathers of a Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) from underneath and the earlier image shows them from above.

Here is the posting in its entirety from December 1, 2013:

I suspect that I may qualify as a stalker, because I spent over thirty minutes on Friday sitting on a fallen tree, observing every movement of a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) high in the oak trees.

The small branches and the shadows made it almost impossible to get a clear shot of the little bird, but they did not keep me from trying. I was really fortunate to get this shot of the woodpecker as it took off from one of its perches with an acorn in its mouth and gave me a glimpse of its beautifully-patterned wings. As I understand it, when the Red-Headed Woodpecker becomes an adult, its wings will be pure black and white, so I am glad that I was able to get the shot of the black dots.

After I posted this photo, I noticed that there is a least one acorn jammed into a crack in the bark just above the top edge of the bird’s tail, mostly likely a snack that it has cached for future consumption.

woodpecker_flying_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The sky was heavily overcast on Saturday as I focused on a Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) high in a broken-off tree at Huntley Meadows Park. The woodpecker was mostly in the shadows and I was having real troubles getting a clear shot of it. Then I got lucky.

The woodpecker flew off and then immediately returned to the same spot and I managed to press the shutter at just the right moment to capture the bird in flight.

I love the way the jagged edges of the tree mirror the shapes of the wings of the woodpecker, giving this image an almost abstract quality. The almost monochromatic color palette and simple composition enhance that abstract feel for me.

Red=headed woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I heard the now familiar call of a Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) and saw a flash of white as a bird flew to a new perch high in the trees. I maneuvered about trying to get a clear visual pathway to the bird and managed to get a few shots before the bird flew away.

A moment of confusion came upon me when I looked at the photos, because my Red-headed Woodpecker did not have a red head. Was I wrong in my initial identification? The wing pattern was certainly right for a Red-headed Woodpecker and I could see some small patched on red on the mostly brown head. Only then did I realize that this was almost certainly a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker that had not yet transitioned to the trademark identifying feature of this species.

I’m including a couple of shots of the juvenile along with a shot of an adult that I took of an adult Red-headed Woodpecker earlier in the week, in case some readers are not familiar with the beautiful species of woodpecker.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Redheads tend to be stunning, rare, and elusive and the Red-headed Woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) at Huntley Meadows Park are no exception to that general rule. These relatively uncommon woodpeckers tend to spend their time high up in tall trees and it’s tough to even spot them. I was therefore thrilled on Monday when I caught a glimpse from a distance of this beautiful woodpecker and managed to capture a photo of it.

Red-headed Woodpecker

The photo shows the distinctive colors and pattern of the Red-headed Woodpecker pretty well. From a technical perspective, I’m happy that I was able to document the presence of this bird. From an artistic perspective, I’m a bit less satisfied with the shot. I hope that the Red-headed Woodpeckers hang around for the winter and that I can get some better shots.

The shots of the Red-headed Woodpecker were my final shots of the day. Interestingly enough, my first shots of the day were also of a woodpecker, a Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), a common species in my area. The woods were dark and full of shadows, but the sunlight was falling on one tree, illuminating an energetic little Downy Woodpecker.

Downy Woodpecker

I was able to get a sharper shot of this woodpecker and to manage the background better, producing an image that I actually like more than my shot of the Red-headed Woodpecker. I love the way that the areas of darkness and light provide a kind of natural vignette that draws the viewers’ eyes to the subject.

I realize that it often is tough for me to evaluate my own photos objectively, in part because I have trouble separating the emotions of the experience of shooting from the actual images themselves. It is exciting to see new or uncommon species and to get any kind of shot that I can use to help share those emotions with others.

In most cases, I have to use words to explain why a particular shot is meaningful to me. As I move forward in photography, I’d like to be able to eventually produce images more often that stand on their own artistically and technically, without any need for explanations.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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All winter long I have been trying to get a clear shot of a Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) at my local marshland park. I have seen them from time to time, high in the trees in the shadows, and have even managed to get some photos of them, but I had never really gotten a good look at the red head.

This past weekend I came across one pecking away on the ground, permitting me at last to get some photos that highlight its beautiful coloration. These shots were taken from a pretty good distance away, but I think you would all agree—this redhead is stunning.

red2_feb_blogred1_feb_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I suspect that I may qualify as a stalker, because I spent over thirty minutes on Friday sitting on a fallen tree, observing every movement of a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) high in the oak trees.

The small branches and the shadows made it almost impossible to get a clear shot of the little bird, but they did not keep me from trying. I was really fortunate to get this shot of the woodpecker as it took off from one of its perches with an acorn in its mouth and gave me a glimpse of its beautifully-patterned wings. As I understand it, when the Red-Headed Woodpecker becomes an adult, its wings will be pure black and white, so I am glad that I was able to get the shot of the black dots.

After I posted this photo, I noticed that there is a least one acorn jammed into a crack in the bark just above the top edge of the bird’s tail, mostly likely a snack that it has cached for future consumption.

woodpecker_flying_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Wouldn’t you know it, I finally see a Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) and its head is not red. It’s a juvenile one and if you look closely you can see a few traces of the spectacular red that it will eventually sport on its entire head.

One of the serious birders at my local marshland park identified the area in which two juvenile Red-headed Woodpeckers had been seen regularly and I was fortunate to spot one of them this past Monday. The woodpecker seemed to be carving out a cavity in the tree and actually climbed into the hole as it chiseled away the bits of wood. Earlier, I saw one of them in the distance at a nearby tree with two large cavities (see the third photo). The bird stuck its head inside one of the cavities and I couldn’t tell if it was checking out the hole or was storing food there.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology notes that the Red-headed Woodpecker is one of only four North American woodpeckers known to store food, and it is the only one known to cover the stored food with wood or bark. These woodpeckers have a varied diet and will eat both insects, which they sometimes catch in the air, and a a number of plant materials, especially acorns.

I don’t know how long it will take for this bird’s head to turn red, but I will certainly be keeping an eye out for it, now that I have an approximate idea of its territory.

redheaded2_blogredheaded1_blogwoodpecker_cavity_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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