birbs flora

The red-headed white-bellied Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker feasting on sumac…or the bugs therein?

The red-bellied woodpecker. I’m not ragging on the folks who assigned woodpeckers their common names, but… okay, maybe a little. Because if I was going to describe this woodpecker to someone, “look for its red belly” would be way way way down the list.

“Neil! Come see this red-bellied woodpecker! No don’t look for a bird with a red belly. The belly looks bright white from here. I mean I can get you a close up reference photo where you can see it’s actually a bit ruddy… Ahhhh there’s no time for this, it’s that bird with the BRIGHT RED HEAD.”

It’s the same deal with the yellow-bellied sapsucker, with its brilliant red cap and (in males) equally bright red throat. And belly that if you are about five feet away from one, and happen to have a pantone deck with you, you *might* describe as the colour of watery butter.

I said I’m not actually ragging on those woodpecker namers though, and I do mean it. Because when you see the bird who scored the name “red-headed woodpecker” you can’t help but think — alright, fair enough.

Pic by The Lilac Breasted Roller (CC BY 2.0), via Wikimedia