Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Belly in Red-bellied Woodpecker

As I've noted before, and as others have certainly also observed, red-bellied woodpeckers would doubtless be called red-headed woodpeckers if not for the red-all-over head of the extremely handsome bird that actually bears that name.The eponymous red belly of the former is not very red and not very easy to see, so it's hardly a good field mark. It does show a little, however, in this shot of a red-bellied woodpecker in our front-yard maple tree this morning.

Earlier posts I've written about red-bellied woodpeckers can be found here. It hasn't been a common bird for us in the past, but we have seen one two or three times since we started tracking our observations for this Project FeederWatch season, which started about a month ago.

Next Saturday we'll be participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count for the third time. In the past two years we've been assigned to areas to the east of Northfield as well as some in town. I'm looking forward to it. One slight hope is that in a morning out and about in the countryside we might see a snowy owl. Many snowy owls have been sighted in the northern U.S. in the past several weeks, signalling a major "irruption" year. They come south in search of food when their usual sources are scarce, and unfortunately a number of the birds that have been reported have been emaciated and some have been found dead. A Google map showing rough locations of snowy owl sightings is available here.

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