Rare Red-bellied Woodpecker


I have had a busy day today.  I got up early as my wife had an appointment for some medical work before her annual checkup.  Then we went to the bird blind this morning to clean up the place a bit in preparation for the visit Saturday from the Abilene, Texas, Audubon Club.  We decided to make a quick run to Spring Creek Park to check things out.  We figured that with some chores that we had to do tomorrow, this would be our last chance for the week.

We saw several of the usual birds, including an Osprey that I will tell you about in tomorrow’s post.  But I am bursting with the news that today we saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker, (Melanerpes carolinus).  For San Angelo, it is a very rare bird, not historically known for making stopovers here.  It was not a lifer for me, as I had seen one before in Tennessee and Michigan, but nevertheless it was still a thrill to see and photograph it.

Whenever we go birding, Ann reports our findings to E-Bird at The Cornell Lab of Ornithological Society.  They keep tabs on such unusual sightings.  The bird posed perfectly for me, too.  You can click on the image to see an enlargement.

Exposure info:  Canon EOS 7D with 500mm f4 lens and 1.4 tele-converter.  1/1000 sec. @ f7.1, +0.7EV, ISO 640.  Hand-held from window of my car.

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58 thoughts on “Rare Red-bellied Woodpecker

  1. My wife and I just saw one today. It had just finished raining and we looked out in the back yard and saw it. We live in Victoria Texas. How rare are they around here?

  2. Although I knew woodpeckers reside in San Diego County, I had not seen one in the 18 years I’ve been here…. until January when I went birding for the first time here. They took us to one spot where I saw 30 acorn woodpeckers in 30 minutes, and their granaries, too, full of acorns.

  3. We often see these here in our back yard. Their coloring is so bright, but I wonder if they really have red bellies. We’ve never been able to see their undersides. This is a great shot, and I am glad that he graced you with his visit! ~Lynda

  4. Bob you had mentioned not long ago the rarity of the Red-bellied not long ago. Good for you! I didn’t see as many as I normally do this past winter since they are rather timid and only come close when temperatures are frigid. The warmth was worth it in the end.

      • It’s 53 and perfect gardening weather! Everything in my perennial garden looks a full month and a half ahead of schedule. (: Missed you on my week off from the computer!

        • I had really missed you too, Melissa. I thought maybe you had gived up blogging. I am afraid to miss too many days or I’ll lose readers like you. I am glad you’re back, at least I’m glad you’re still reading my stuff. :-)xo

  5. The red-bellied woodpecker spends some time with us here in Ohio, but I haven’t seen one recently. I wonder if it has moved on? However, I was very excited to see my first yellow-bellied sapsucker a few days ago! And on two different occasions too.

    I have nominated you for the Sunshine Blog Award. Please read about it here: http://skip22037.wordpress.com/blog-2/

    • Hi Skip, Thanks for commenting. The Red-bellied Woodpecker is seen in most of the eastern U.S., but here in west Texas it is a rare thing when it makes an appearance. Congrats on your sighting of your first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. It’s alway great to get those ‘lifers’.

      I’ll check out that link of the Sunshine Award. I appreciate you for nominating. I’ll try to live up to your expectations. 🙂

  6. It seems so strange to see this bird being called “rare”! These guys are regulars in my neck of the woods. I wonder of yours was a “lost soul”? Nice shot!

  7. Beautiful shot, Bob, they are so cute! We have lots of them here. It is so funny that they are called “Red-Bellied” when their bellies aren’t red, LOL! I love it when I see a rare bird for our neck of the woods as well, exciting!

  8. Bob, Beautiful photo! We have its kissing cousin, the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker, here in our back yard. You ought to go visit my mother in Liberty, Texas (my hometown), sometime. It’s near the Big Thicket, and she gets Pileated Woodpeckers in her yard. (She’s friends with the family I told you about who live in El Dorado.) Cheers, Denise

    • Thanks, Denise. We have plenty of the Golden-fronted here. In fact, when I first saw this bird, my first thought was that was what it was, until I took a closer look through my camera lens. Then I said, Whoa, what the heck it is that? I guess I need to go to Liberty someday. I have never seen a Pileated Woodpecker.

  9. Congrats for spotting a rarity for your area. We have many Red-Bellies here in Atlanta (and down in Florida, too.) I’d like to see a red-cockaded woodpecker sometime – now THAT’s a rarity!

  10. It sure did pose perfectly for you! We have these woodpeckers all over the place here. In fact I have never seen so many woodpeckers and flickers before moving here!

  11. We see these here occasionally and even though it’s not rare to see them here (upstate NY) it’s still a beautiful surprise when we do! It must have been wonderful for you to come across this one!

  12. I believe I also have a red bellied woodpecker in my backyard. I live in Braintree Massachuestts. I saw it in the fall when we had a storm. I just saw it again in my yard.

  13. Nice image!! We have a pair here at our new place that we see occasionally in the magnolia trees. Unfortunately sometimes they peck at our house instead of the trees…

    • I used a Canon 500mm f4 with a 1.4 tele-converter. Hand-held from the window of my car. Thanks for commenting, Jerry. I really appreciate hearing from other photographers.

      I think I will add this info to the bottom of this blog.

      • Cool. I’ve been thinking about getting a 1.4 teleconverter but have been worried about losing too much light. Based on your photos, I’m going to go ahead and get one. The 500mm will have to wait though!

        • Great, I don’t think you will have any problem adjusting. You’ll love it. You will also lose very little in quality. That’s why the dog-gone things are so expensive.

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