Country Birder... and Butterflies 

Red-bellied Woodpecker
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Red-bellied Woodpecker, female.  Unlike other woodpeckers, the Red-bellied Woodpecker rarely drills into wood but instead feeds opportunistically on fruits, nuts and insects.  According to Birds of North America Online from Cornell, the Red-bellied Woodpecker is the most abundant woodpecker in the Southeast, and is much less common in its northern range which extends almost to Canada.  The bird is nonmigratory in general, but in harsh winters the birds in the northern range may be forced to move south.  Some suggest that the practice of maintaining feeders has helped the bird become more established in the northern part of its range.  At our yard, the Red-bellieds are consistent visitors to the suet feeders, and will also take nuts from the platform feeder that is mostly overlooked by the other woodpeckers.

The Red-bellied Woodpecker competes, often viciously, with other cavity nesting birds to claim nesting holes, but is often a victim of the non-native nuisance European Starling.
Central Indiana - September 28, 2008
Red-bellied Woodpecker, male.  This woodpecker is called "Red-bellied" because of the red ventral patch, which can barely be seen on this male (partially hidden from view by the branch).   The male and female can be distinguished by the red coloring on the head.  On the male, the red is unbroken, extending from the forehead back across the crown and down the nape.  On the female (above), the nasal area just above the bill will be red, but then the upper forehead and crown are gray, with the red resuming down the back of the neck.
Central Indiana - June 11, 2008

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