Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

I like the red cap.

Scientists are beginning to find evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behaviour, helping us to reduce anxiety, brooding, and stress, and increase our attention capacity, creativity, and our ability to connect with other people. Sitting in my backyard watching the antics of the woodpecker, feeling the sunlight on my skin, makes me feel happy and hopeful.

The Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) is a medium-sized woodpecker. The bird's upperparts are mostly black with white barring on the wings, while the lower back, rump, and belly are a pale red, although the red on the belly is often difficult to see. The head features a distinctive red cap on males, while females have a smaller red patch or no red at all. I think a better name could have been red-capped woodpecker.

I see the Red-bellied Woodpeckers all around town, including the nearby deciduous forests, mixed woodlands, and parks. They are omnivorous, feeding on insects, spiders, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Their strong bills and long tongues allow them to extract insects from tree bark and probe into crevices for food.

From my backyard I can sometimes hear the woodpeckers drumming and tapping sounds, which they use for communication, marking territories, and foraging for food.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) · 15 April 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

Author: Khürt Williams

a human, an application security architect, avid photographer, nature lover, and formula 1 fan who drinks beer.

17 thoughts on “Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)”

  1. Khürt, lovely images of the woodpecker and an on-point challenge response! I recently acquired a longer lens and have just begun the learning curve in photographing birds. (I first typed "shooting" and decided that was the wrong term. >grin<)

    1. Shooting is the wrong search keyword. I can’t imagine telling someone I’ve just met that I shoot birds for fun. 🤣

      I started into bird photography (a more search-friendly keyword) just a few years before the COVID-19 pandemic. I am still on the uphill portion of the learning curve.

      What focal length lens did you get?

  2. What a beautiful bird, Khurt! Lovely images and thoughts about the restorative power of nature. I'm so glad you joined the challenge!

  3. What a great post, Khürt! I must agree with what scientists are showing about what nature can do to a human's well being. I personally see that effect on me. I remember that last year, when I was a co-host for Lens Artists, my topic was "Recharge." I used nature for that.

  4. I am 100% in agreement with science on this one. There is no doubt in my mind that nature has a profound impact on our brains and behaviors. The woodpecker clearly knows that too. It seems to be smiling. Beautiful bird. Awesome contribution to the challenge, Khurt.

    1. Last year the woodpeckers drilled a hole in the eaves of our home and created a major problem. This despite dozens of huge trees in our yard! We have some huge pileated ones too. They really are beautiful!

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