Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Red-bellied Woodpecker and Chickadee

Today, it's cold (30s) and mostly cloudy--good for writing a post.

Yesterday, the wind was so strong and the temperature was dropping so quickly that I did my nature watching, the easy way, by looking out the windows.

This Carolina Chickadee is using the branch to open up a sunflower seed. The Black-capped and Carolina Chickadees are supposed to interbreed in this region so I identify ours by their song which is definitely that of the Carolina Chickadee. They also seem quite a bit smaller than those I have seen up north in New York. I had read that maybe that's just an adaptation to cold.

The Red-bellied Woodpecker rules at the suet feeder. Even the Blue Jay won't challenge this bird--guess he's afraid of that long beak.

Here's one I caught in flight.

Here you can see a little bit of the red belly which gives the woodpecker its name.

A few years ago, I was able to observe some Red-bellied Woodpeckers in southern Florida (near Ft. Meyers) about this time of year. They seemed quite a bit smaller than the ones we have here. Similar to the Chickadees, the woodpeckers up north are larger to adapt to the cold. The larger the bird, the easier they can keep their bodies warm. But, I guess there is a trade-off--they must eat more food to keep warm. Of course, that doesn't seem to be a problem around here because I keep the suet feeders full all winter.


  1. I just love the Carolina Chickadee's and those Red-bellied Woodpeckers are great also! Lucky you got to see the red belly since we don't always get to see that!

  2. Two of my favorites! (Although, I don't know if I've ever seen (heard) the carolina chickadee... Ours seem to all be black-capped...

  3. I agree with your sentiments on the size of bird. The tiny birds, like the Chickadees, always worry me in high winds and extreme cold. But they're hardy little birds. Like you, there's always plenty of food that I serve and a nice variety. Nice bird photos! I love photographing the red-bellied woodpecker. I think I saw the red belly only once!

  4. Lovely bird pictures! The Red-bellied's head is so bright!
    I started working on the painting from your picture of the 4 birds on the twig. I'll keep you posted on the progress!

  5. Mon@rch--yeah--that red belly is hard to see. I can only catch a glimpse of the red belly at the suet feeder--never on a tree.

  6. Jennifer--Chicadees are one of my favorites too! From the field guide, black-capped are in the north where you are while the Carolina are in the south but overlap where we are.

  7. Mary--I too get scared for the little birds. The other day, a big gust of wind blew a little downy woodpecker from the suet feeder onto the ground but he didn't seem to be hurt.

  8. Chris--I am pleased you are starting on that painting. If the weather there is anything like here, it's hard to get motivated to go outside. Painting is a good idea.