Red-bellied woodpecker

John Parfet sent a couple of wonderful pictures of a red-bellied woodpecker (sharing space with a chickadee in the first picture):

This woodpecker has been hanging around a few days, John says, and is the first red-bellied woodpecker they’ve had at their feeders on Madeline Island.
I’m not surprised. I often saw red-bellied woodpeckers in my Iowa years, but I haven’t yet seen one up here. “The Crossley ID Guide” to eastern birds shows the northern border of red-bellied territory as being right around the Northland.
At this point, you might be asking: Red-bellied? Huh?
It’s something I’ve always questioned, and I was glad to see this in Crossley: “Poorly named after barely noticeable red on belly.”
I’ll say. It couldn’t have been called red-headed woodpecker, because that name is taken by a woodpecker with a much redder, fuller head.
But “red-bellied” seems like a goofy name for a bird with an off-white belly.
I’m surprised this didn’t come up in the presidential debates.

Your bird observations, stories and photos greedily accepted at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

6 thoughts on “Red-bellied woodpecker

  1. I’ve had red-bellied for three years here in Brule/Iron River. Red-headed, not so frequently (annually) but gorgeous birds, both species. This year the immature red-headed made me look them up and ask my husband for confirmation! The red-bellied are quite vocal, and have over-wintered.

  2. I have a real issue with this red-bellied woodpecker. Everday, since last week, this woodpecker has been going to the same windows and tapping them over and over from around 8ish in the morning to the early evening.

    Now I’ve read that this tapping has to do with mating or territory, but during the fall? This woodpecker taps constantly at the windows; if we scare it from one, it will fly and wait till we leave and then return and tap the window, or move to a different one and tap. It has even flown into the window a few times, on purpose.

    I don’t know why it’s doing this, or if it’s normal. I wonder if it’s mentally ill or something? How can we stop this from continuing without harming it?

    One last thing. Do they migrate? We live in MN, in the Twin Cities suburbs. We have never had this problem before, and now it just showed up last week and hasn’t left since.

    Any advice would be helpful.

  3. Love red-bellied woodpeckers. We had them at the feeder all winter and then they were gone in the summer. Just had one show up again this fall. For the windows — try stickers? or taping something on the window? I’ve never heard of them pecking at windows before and ours have always steered well-clear of the house.

  4. The Birds of North America site says that Red-bellied Woodpeckers are not considered a migratory species but some evidence exists that they do migrate at the northern end of their range. Where I live in Todd county they are here year round so they probably are stuck with them where you live.

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