I made a recent post about my red headed friend not to long ago. The only Red-Bellied Woodpeckers Ive encountered have been out fishing or doing other outdoor activities. However, the one pictured above decided to pay me a visit one cold, dismal, and snowy day. I didn’t have to travel far – it was right in my backyard. He didn’t come without a cost though, food makes the birds come to you!
The bird pictured above is a male red-bellied woodpecker. The female has a lighter shade of red with a grayish patch on the top of her head. Her black and white feathers are much lighter as well. I have yet to see a female but I find it easier to differentiate the two sexes of this particular bird; much like the mallard duck. On the other hand some species of bird are very hard to distinguish. That makes my birding journey more interesting.
As I mentioned above this photo was taken in my backyard. The woodpecker is much to large to fit on the free-standing feeder that I have placed in the middle of my backyard. I did not want any bird to feel left out of the free treats available so I installed a suet cake holder that I purchased from Lowes for about $1.50. While the smaller birds (sparrows) were feeding on the free-standing feeder the larger bird decided to perch in the tree and make its way to the feeder. That was the perfect time to capture a few photos and video.
I used a super telephoto lens for this particular shot. I zoomed in just enough so that the subject filled the entire frame. The woodpecker was a wonderful subject to photograph. There were hardly any sporadic movements or hopping swiftly from branch to branch. The woodpecker was slow and very polite to wait its turn when the sparrows finished on the suet cake. Being that this particular bird did not move a lot my camera had time to auto focus and capture really sharp images – I used a tripod. I decided to leave my camera on a slower shutter speed because the snow created enough of reflected light for me not to have too high of an ISO. It was in my normal range of 100.
I really love how the icicles around the tree branches make a nice bokeh in the background. I think it adds another element to the photo. I’m very happy with all of the natural elements in the photo; the bird, branches, snow, and ice.
Below is a link from my Twitter page of the video of the Red-bellied woodpecker. There is no audio in the video as the woodpecker had its mouth busy and didn’t have time to have a conversation. I captured the video with the same DSLR and lens I used for the still shots.
— BackyardPhotographer (@PheOBackyrdphtg) January 17, 2017
On a final note
I was really excited to finally get a different bird to visit my backyard other than the sparrows that overtake the feeder. I found it critical to have a tripod for this scene for two reasons. The cameras weight (lens + camera) and the amount of time to wait for the subjects to arrive. I have a strong reason to believe that my backyard was very popular that morning because of the weather. The ground was covered in snow and the food sources were either limited or hard to get to. In the end, it worked out for everyone!
Spark creativity by capturing the world around you one photo at a time
150-600mm at 460mm 1/30sec at 6.3 ISO 100