Saturday, April 20, 2013

Red-headed Woodpecker

It took a while for this Red-headed Woodpecker to get comfortable with me beneath his tree.  He flew away when I first arrived, but with all the holes in the trees I knew he’d be back. The holes in the trees told me he’d been here for a long time already. This was in one of his favorite resting spots.

Vereen Memorial Garden is on the North Carolina, South Carolina Stateline. The Intracoastal Waterway makes up the eastern border.   A quiet park with only basic amenities…bring what you need and take nothing when you leave, except the experience. Wide forest paths and marsh boardwalks take you around the park in loops.  With the tides, the park changes twice a day.

It didn’t take long for the Red-headed Woodpecker to return.  He knew I was still there on the boardwalk, but I didn’t threaten him enough to concern him.  He flew between several dead Loblolly Pines, staying half out of sight and always keeping one eye in my direction.

This is the Red-bellied Woodpecker, a dramatically different looking bird than the Red-headed Woodpecker.  I found him nearby, but much lower in the trees.  I see many more of the red-bellied, than the Red-headed Woodpecker, but that is only due to the local conditions where I live. They’re both widespread and common birds in the eastern half of the United States.

The Red-headed Woodpecker is listed as ‘Near Threatened’, though, due to loss of habitat. They need standing dead trees to hunt, nest and store food.  This one is looking for a hole for a newly found acorn. They have been known to stuff live grasshoppers into crevices to eat later, too.

Boldly feathered in red, white and black, he makes no attempt to blend into the marsh environment.   If you miss him, he will let you know where he is by drumming out his calling card on a hollow log.  Don’t pass up the invitation.


Locator for boardwalk: