Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Melanerpes carolinus

The Desert Southwest has the Gila Woodpecker. Texas and Mexico have the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker. And most of the USA east of the Continental Divide have the Red-Bellied Woodpecker. The audible and visual adornments on these three birds bear a strong resemblance to each other, as well as their outgoing personalities.

Birds that nest in cavities depend on nest holes and consider them precious. Red-Bellied Woodpeckers have been known to take over the nests of other birds. More often, they are victims to the more invasive European Starling who steal homes excavated by these woodpeckers. In some areas, as many as half of all Red-Bellied Woodpecker nests get taken over by starlings.

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers can stick out their tongues almost two inches beyond its beak. The tip is barbed and sticky. This makes it easier to capture prey from deep crevices. Male’s tongues are longer and wider-tipped than females. Researchers believe this allows a breeding pair to forage more effectively in different places on their territory.

Taxonomists regard Red-Bellied Woodpeckers as monotypic (there are no subspecies).

In the spring of 2023, I embarked on an expedition in my RV that included stops in the mid-western USA. I spent time in the company of Red-Bellied Woodpeckers at several places I visited. However, only two of my stops produced any ‘keeper’ images of these birds. Northeastern Kansas was the first place I managed to collect any images I liked. Later, while visiting friends in Dayton Ohio, I captured another worthwhile image.

Range Map for Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Range Map

4 Photos

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