Thursday, March 12, 2009

Birds At My Feeder.... More Woodpeckers Please!

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) female

"If only, if only," the woodpecker sighs,
"The bark on the tree was as soft as the skies."
While the wolf waits below, hungry and lonely,
Crying to the moo-oo-oon,
"If only, If only."
~ Louis Sachar (Holes)

In Mississippi, our most common woodpecker was the Red-headed variety with dark black-capped wings and a full red head. I have seen one here in Virginia as well, but didn't have the camera at hand. The variety pictured above is larger than the small 6 inch downy woodpecker, averaging about 9 inches in length. The distinct "zebra" striped wings and the patches of red on the head and above the bill are indicative of the Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus). There is a touch of red on the belly, but not as massive as one would expect with the name. This bird is a female with her gray crown. The male would be similar but his red crown feathers give a mowhawk effect.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) female

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) female

One day I glanced out the window and saw this large light brown bird with golden yellow tail feathers and the most beautiful black markings on its chest and belly. This was one of the largest birds I had seen at our feeder and the most beautiful. Another woodpecker variety; the Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) that averages 12 inches in length. This is the female as males have a black moustache that angles down to the neck from the bill.

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) female

These birds love the platform feeder and occasionally feed on the ground, but most often head directly for the suet. It is fascinating to watch them feed. Their long, sharp bills peck deep into the suet and then this pink tongue flecks out to grab up the nuts and corn pieces. The tongue is more visible than that of other birds and the motion reminds me of a snake tongue.

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) female Posted by Picasa

Isn't she gorgeous? I may have a picture of the male still on my memory card. Last week I captured both the male and female visiting our feeder. By the way, if you can see those pale lines streaking across the background.... that was our snow for the year!

Birds at my feeder... will continue.... but for now...
these birds decided to visit Friday's Ark... the cats have taken a ride but this is a first for the birds....

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