|Male Red-bellied Woodpecker|
|Female Red-bellied Woodpecker|
Interesting fact: A Red-bellied Woodpecker can stick out its tongue almost 2 inches past the end of its beak, and its saliva is also sticky, thus making it easier to snatch insects from deep tree crevices.
The Red-headed Woodpecker is unmistakable with its beautiful red head. It is impossible to tell if this one is a male or female, though, as the genders look the same. This one only started visiting a few weeks ago, but now that it has found my bird feeder filled with sunflower chips, I see it every day. In general, however, this species' numbers have been on the decline due to loss of habitat and other factors.
Interesting fact: Like the Red-bellied Woodpecker, the Red-headed Woodpecker will store food in crevices of bark or cracks in wood; however, this is the only kind known to cover the food up with bark or wood. Smart thinking!
|Male Downy Woodpecker|
The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in North America, measuring about six inches long. They are named for the patch of downy feathers between their bill and their forehead. They are frequent visitors of my suet feeder.
|Female Downy Woodpecker|
The male has a red patch on the back of his head, while the female does not. Downy Woodpeckers are often found in mixed species flocks of birds - they blend right in with the other backyard birds, they are so small!
|Male Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker|
Unlike other woodpeckers, the Northern Flicker usually prefers to find food on the ground, lapping up insects such as ants with its long tongue. I only see them occasionally on my suet feeder - they are more likely to be foraging on the ground nearby.
|The female Northern Flicker does not have a black 'moustache'.|
There are two races of Northern Flickers. The yellow-shafted form found in the Eastern US has yellow shaft feathers, yellow on the underside of its tail feathers, red at the nape, and the males have a black moustache. The red-shafted form in the West has red shaft feathers, red on the underside of the tail feathers, and the males have a red moustache.
This migratory Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was actually hanging out in the wooded lot next door. They prefer sap, insects, and berries to bird feeders. Here is a much better picture from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center website:
|Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - Smithsonian|
Sapsuckers drill holes in trees in order to drink the nutritious sap and eat the insects that are attracted to the sap. That is not always good news for the tree - however, many other animals benefit from this. Animals such as bats, porcupines, squirrels, hummingbirds, and many other birds will come to drink the sap as well as eat the lured insects.
Most woodpeckers just drill holes to get insects and don't really harm trees. They prefer to feed from dead trees or ones that already have an insect problem. Sapsuckers, on the other hand, will repeatedly drill on the same tree to keep the sap flowing, so if it's one you want to keep, you need to take preventative measures.
|Most woodpeckers prefer to nest and feed in dead trees such as this one.|
the Hairy Woodpecker, which looks like a larger version of the little Downy Woodpecker, the Pileated Woodpecker, which is very large with a fabulous red crest on its head, and the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker, which prefers to nest in groves of old longleaf pines and thus have declined with the destruction of their habitat.
picture from Wikipedia
There is also, very hopefully, one other species of woodpecker that has lived in North Carolina in the past, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. It is possibly extinct due to destruction of habitat. There were some possible sighting of this woodpecker in Arkansas and Florida several years ago. So if you see one during the Great Backyard Bird Count, or at anytime at all, take a picture and alert some ornithologists!
|Ivory-billed Woodpecker |
picture from Wikipedia
And don't forget, you can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count
anytime between February 17 - 20!
What birds are usually in your backyard?