Red-bellied

Melanerpes carolinusOne of our most common city woodpeckers, the Red-bellied (Melanerpes carolinus). Winter is the best time to see them, clambering up bare trees. The bird’s call, a “quirrrr,” is also one of the most common winter bird sounds. In spring, they’re often noticed because Starlings attempt to steal their nest holes in loud battles.

This is a female: note how the red on her nape doesn’t extend up and over the head as it would with a male. This species causes a little confusion with its common name. The belly’s not very red (as the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker isn’t so yellow) and the male especially wants to be called a “red-head,” but that appellation is taken up by the Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus). The Red-headed is rare in the city, but last year we had one in Green-Wood.

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