Monday, January 28, 2008

Backyard Bird Tray

Blue Jays and male Red-bellied woodpecker.

Funny, isn't it, that the red-bellied woodpecker does not have a red belly? Go figure.


Anonymous said...

I know! I have often wondered why it got that name. I have one that's a regular at my feeder and I enjoy watching it scare the other birds off the feeder when its there. We've kept several dead trees standing to give the woodpeckers some real estate. I always enjoy watching them.

Marie E

Mark Churchill said...

Someone is bound to point this out, so it may as well be me. Some red-bellied woodpeckers (mostly males, I think) do have some red on the belly. Usually the lower belly, right around the legs, and it's more of a red tinge than the vibrant red found on the head and nape.

Pink-bellied woodpecker might have been a better name, and they'd probably be red-headed woodpeckers if that name wasn't already taken.

If you really want to see an example of the logic of bird names, get out your Peterson field guide (east) and go to the page of dark-headed gulls. Most of them have black heads, but the one whose name is "black-headed gull" is the only one on the page with a brown head.

PBurns said...

They tell me there's a bit of yellow above the beak on a red-bellied too, but damn if I've ever seen it.

I'm pretty loose on bird taxonomy. For example, as far as I am concerned there is no difference at all between a downy woodpecker and a hairy woodpecker. As for the finches, I toss a huge group of them into a folder called LBJs -- little brown jobs -- as they freely crossbreed, and between all of the male, female, mature and immature variations it's pretty dizzying.