Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wednesday Bird of the Week: October 10, 2018

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) perched and searching for
something to eat.
 The bird of the week this week is one of the most common woodpecker species that I observe here in Kansas. Red-bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) are a common woodpecker species to visit suet feeders, often chasing off other birds with their intimidating beaks. I am often asked why they are called red-bellied by non-birders. Although not super obvious, there is a bit or red mixed into the feathers on their bellies. The red cap on top of their heads can be such a bright shade of red that it almost looks orange in the right light.

Red-bellied Woodpecker displaying its beautiful red/orange cap.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers eat mostly insects, but will munch on acorns, nuts and pine cones as well. As a yard bird, I mostly see them eating from the suet, but sometimes catch them picking sunflower seeds from my trough feeder. I have even had these beautiful birds trying to impale holes into the gutters on my home, likely trying to get to some insect that was hiding in the wood just behind the thin metal. 

When it comes to woodpecker nesting, this species is no different from the others, choosing to nest in hollowed out cavities. The Red-bellied Woodpecker can lay one to three broods per year with clutches ranging in size from two to six eggs.

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is of low conservation concern. Although the forests of their range (Eastern North America) have diminished, these birds seem to continue to thrive.

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