Thursday, June 16, 2016

Red-bellied Woodpecker Sings Cha-Cha-Cha

A couple years ago I went on a hike at Lighthouse West Natural Area jointly sponsored by the Leelanau Conservancy and Saving Birds Thru Habitat.  As we quietly walked through the woods and meadows, I was amazed at how the two docents identified the birds by their calls.  Since then, I’ve worked on learning the sounds of more of the birds that frequent my backyard feeders.

This week I added another bird’s songs to my vocabulary.  I’d had a Red-bellied Woodpecker visit one of my feeding stations.  It was especially enjoying the Bug, Nut, & Berry Seed Cylinder full of mealworms, sunflower chips, peanuts, raisins, and cranberries.

I checked out my birding app for this woodpecker and learned that it had two calls, one called a kwirr call and the other a cha call.  I was amazed at how often I’d heard these sounds, especially the cha-cha-cha call, but I hadn’t associated them with the Red-bellied Woodpecker until now.  

I also hadn’t realized that I’d had more than one woodpecker visiting my feeders.  The first two images were of the male bird, which has its red cap extending onto the crown.  The female, in contrast, has a much smaller cap with its crown being mostly white. 

I’m not sure how these birds came to be named Red-bellied because neither of them appeared to have a red belly, from my vantage point at least.

I tried to catch the woodpeckers in flight, but they were too fast for me.  I knew I’d have to get out my tripod if I was going to be successful with that.

I did see them take their food over to a nearby tree.  I had to wonder if they had a nest there, as the female was definitely hanging on to her peanut piece.


  1. I love this post, with your great Red-belly shots, Karen! And your background info has inspired me to go to my iPad bird app to listen to the calls of the Red-bellied woodpecker so that I can add their songs to my vocabulary, too. Thanks!

  2. Good luck, Jan. Using the bird apps really helps.