|Our Feathered Friends|
|Wednesday, September 29, 2010|
By RAY POPE
I would recommend those of you that don’t and enjoy your birds should purchase one to keep close by. At Amazon.com, there are several books on the market for beginners on up through the experts. If you are planning on buying one, I hope you start only on the eastern birds, as these are the ones you would most often see around here.
In Wilson County we have two Woodpeckers with red heads, but only one of them is the Red-headed Woodpecker. The Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) is a small to medium woodpecker that lives in temperate North America with its breeding habitat in open country across southern Canada and the eastern-central United States and is listed as near threatened.
Adults are tri-colored with a black back and tail, red head and neck, while their underparts are mostly white. Its wings are black with white secondary feathers. Adult males and females are identical in plumage, while the juveniles are similar, but are mottled with brown. Their vocals consist of a “tchur tchur” call while they drum within their territories.
These Woodpeckers are omnivorous, eating insects, seeds, berries, fruit, nuts and sometimes may rob the eggs of another bird species, hopefully starlings! They excavate a nesting hole in a dead tree and even utility poles between eight feet on up to eighty feet where the female lays four to seven eggs in early May.
Incubation last for two weeks and a second brood may be raised within the same season. I watched these beautiful birds excavate a nesting hole only to be evicted by starlings out by the basketball court at the Cedars Of Lebanon State Park.
The other confusing Woodpecker is the Red-bellied Woodpecker. The Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) is a medium sized Woodpecker of the Picidae Family. Its range is southern Canada and the northeastern United States ranging as far south as Florida. Its common name is somewhat misleading as the most prominent red part of its plumage is on the head. Adults are mainly light gray on the face and underparts with black and white barred patterns on their back, wings and tail.
Adult males have a red cap going from their bill to the nape. Females have a red patch on their nape and another above the bill. It’s the reddish tinge on their bellies that give them their name. These birds are 9 to 10 1/2 inches long with a wingspan of 15 to 18 inches.
Red-headed Woodpeckers are noisy birds with many varied calls. Their vocals consist of a “churr, churr, churr” usually with an alternating “br-r-r-r-t” sound. Sometimes it’s not easy trying to put bird sounds into phonetics. Males tend to call and drum more frequently than females. Often when drumming to attract a mate, they may tap on metal roofs, gutters, or a hollow tree for maximum noise. This is sure to get on your last nerve.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers eat mainly arthropods on tree trunks and may catch insects on the wing. They are also omnivores with their eating habits. Breeding habitat consist of deciduous forest, mostly nesting in decayed cavities of dead trees, old stumps, or in live trees that have softer wood such as Elms, Maples or Willows. I have also watched Starlings evict these birds at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park.
Remember, especially this winter to place out suet cakes for our Woodpeckers and other hungry species which will give you hours of free entertainment right outside your windows.