Red bellied woodpecker


Red-bellied Woodpecker

I’m not sure if anyone remembers the cartoon “Woody the Woodpecker” but the woodpecker above immediately reminded my of the cartoon featuring an adventurous cartoon woodpecker I watched during my childhood. They were different species but they are both woodpeckers with red crowns.

My husband and I usually name the animals we find just for fun. This woodpeckers name is Herbert.

I had just ventured down the creek to find a new spot for fishing when I decided to catch up on my new issue on Birds and Blooms magazine. I sat and enjoyed the sound of the running water and the breeze flowing through the trees. After about thirty minutes I began to hear a bird somewhere on the left side of me then a stream of repetitive taps. I glanced to the nearby trees and didn’t see anything. Then I heard a loud and close bird call. My eyes shot over to a speckled black and white fluttering body pecking away at the tree.

It’s a Red-bellied Woodpecker!

To my surprise, I quickly dropped my magazine and cell phone, stood up and began to snap away; making photos. I was able to quickly identify the species because there was a feature about them in the previous issue of the magazine. I was drawn to it’s beautiful pattern and color. After my amazement, I began to notice what he was doing. I had always s thought that woodpeckers just pecked at wood to build nests and for mating calls.

I was using my telephoto lens so I had a closer view of what it was doing. He managed to weasel or “woodpecker” his way between a few pieces of bark to grab a title treat. I’m not sure what type of insect it was but I was amazed during the entire process. It grasped its prize in its mouth, scanned its surroundings and flew away to another tree about 50 yards away. It was not within sight anymore but I assume it flew away to consume its dinner.

According to Red Bellied Woodpeckers’ diet consists of insects and plant material. From the photo above and it’s pecking action on the tree, I think it may have had an insect. It forages for insects on tree trunks and major limbs. It also consumes nuts and stores them in bark crevices to eat them during winter.

About 15 minutes later, another bird flew over pecked at the same tree and retrieved the same “white ball” as the woodpecker above. It then began to peck some more and retrieved another type of insect.

On a final note

I was happy to have my zoom lens attached and ready to capture the woodpecker because everything happened within a matter of a few minutes. The main key was to have a fast shutter speed because of its fast movements. I had the camera set to Auto ISO because I didn’t have time to adjust the settings while making the photo. Depending on your camera, a high ISO will not ruin the picture.

Lastly, if you spot a Red Bellied Woodpecker, stop to notice what it is doing or eating. Like me,  I’m sure you will be surprised when it starts to pluck various insects from a tree. The Red bellied woodpecker is such a beautiful bird, I hope to photograph many more in the future.

Spark creativity by capturing the world around you one photo at a time



70-300mm at 300mm 1/320th sec f/9 ISO 400

*The photos in this post are the same woodpecker *

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