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The Red-bellied Woodpecker and its Curious Name

Its blushing belly is the last thing you'll notice!

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are bold, conspicuous, and vocal, thriving in rural and urban areas east of the Mississippi. Like most woodpeckers, Red-bellieds eat lots of insects. But they also like nuts, berries, and seeds. They can be attracted to back yards with suet cakes, berry bushes, or even a cut orange tacked to a tree trunk. But the Red-bellied Woodpecker retains one element of mystery: its name. The last thing you would likely notice is the blush of rose on its lower belly. Click on View Large under the photo to see it!

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®
The Red-bellied Woodpecker and its Curious Name
Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Rolling call of Red-bellied Woodpecker] 

As woodpeckers go, they’re bold and conspicuous, thriving even in back yards and city parks east of the Mississippi. And Red-bellied Woodpeckers are unabashedly vocal – some might say noisy. [Rolling call of Red-bellied Woodpecker]

The Red-bellied is a good-sized woodpecker, more than nine inches tall. Sleek and handsome. Its back is crisply barred, zebra-like, in black and white; its underside glows a warm buff. And the male sports a scarlet crown and nape.

Like most woodpeckers, Red-bellieds eat lots of insects. But they also like nuts, berries, and seeds. [Red-bellied Woodpecker “chatter-chi” call] They can be attracted to back yards with suet cakes, berry bushes, or even a cut orange tacked to a tree trunk, so they can enjoy the pulp and juice. [Rolling call of Red-bellied Woodpecker]

But the Red-bellied Woodpecker retains one element of mystery: its name. Why call it “red-bellied”? Whoever first named the species must have had a wry sense of humor. For, on this strikingly patterned bird, the last thing you would likely notice is a slight blush of rose on its lower belly. [Rolling call of Red-bellied Woodpecker]

BirdNote's online Sights & Sounds Gallery holds an amazing collection. And one of those photos is of the red belly of a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Well, … let's say it’s …. reddish. I'm Mary McCann. Check it out at BirdNote.org.  [Drumming of Red-bellied Woodpecker] 

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Rolling “churr” call of Red-bellied Woodpecker [105714] recorded by G.A. Keller; “chatter-chi” call recorded by M. Fischer; drumming [102195] recorded by D. Stemple. Ambient drawn from [102195] recorded by M. Fischer.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2016 Tune In to Nature.org March 2014/2016 Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# RBWO-01b-2014-03-27 RBWO-01b    

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