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

Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus)

I heard the spotted Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) calling loudly from an overhead branch of a mature tree, near the wooded area by the volleyball field.

On another lunch break, I walked over to the grassy area below the tennis and basketball courts near my home. There’s a net setup for volleyball but I have never seen anyone use it. The volleyball field tends to be damp and the grass is quite lush from the runoff from the tennis and basketball courts. The east, west and northern side of the field is surrounded by large trees and dense bushes. Through the trees is a small rocky stream that runs from a source that eventually connects to the Millstone River to the east and winds through the woods into Rocky Hill.

The Northern flicker is a type of woodpecker commonly found in various habitats, including woodlands, parks, and even suburban areas with mature trees. Northern flickers primarily feed on insects such as ants, beetles, caterpillars, and termites. They also consume fruits and seeds, especially during the colder months when insects are less abundant. After I learned of this I recently added a mealworm and berry suet to the bird feeder.

Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) · 26 March 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

I heard the spotted Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) calling loudly from an overhead branch of a tall tree that was in early frondescence. I’ve heard the Northern flicker ball calls before, in the wooded area just beyond the fence line at the back of my home. This is my first time seeing one.