Thursday, October 17, 2013

Knock, Knock, Who’s There? Part III

Commonly seen year around at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is the Red-bellied Woodpecker.  The name is confusing, as the visible red is on the forehead, cap and nape of the adult male and on the nape and around the bill of the adult female, according to Cornell’s All About Birds, but the female does have a “red belly, usually concealed by surrounding gray feathers”.

Red-bellied Woodpecker at Hagerman NWR, by Miguel Mendoza
Good places to watch for Red-bellied Woodpeckers at the Refuge are Haller’s Haven Trail and the Big Mineral Picnic Area, where they may be found “hitching” along branches and trunks of trees.  Cornell's site notes that they will also visit backyard feeders for suet, peanuts and sometimes sunflower seeds.

In the Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior we find that all woodpeckers are cavity nesters, creating their own cavity in either living or dead wood, and typically lay 4 – 6 white eggs, which hatch in 11 – 14 day.  Most woodpeckers are monogamous and territorial.

Some “COOL FACTS” from Cornell:
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.
A Red-bellied Woodpecker can stick out its tongue nearly 2 inches past the end of its beak. The tip is barbed and the bird’s spit is sticky, making it easier to snatch prey from deep crevices. Males have longer, wider-tipped tongues than females, possibly allowing a breeding pair to forage in slightly different places on their territory and maximize their use of available food.
The oldest known Red-bellied Woodpecker was 12 years 1 month old.

To learn the calls of the Red-bellied, go to

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