This story is brought to you by BirdNote, a show that airs daily on public radio stations nationwide.

As woodpeckers go, they’re bold and conspicuous, thriving even in backyards and city parks east of the Mississippi. And Red-bellied Woodpeckers are unabashedly vocal—some might even say noisy.

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. They can be attracted to backyards with suet cakes, berry bushes, or even a cut orange tacked to a tree trunk, so they can enjoy the pulp and juice.

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.

To download this podcast, go to birdnote.org.

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 recorded by G.A. Keller; “chatter-chi” call recorded by M. Fischer; drumming recorded by D. Stemple. Ambient drawn from 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
Written by Bob Sundstrom

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

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