While it may seem ridiculous to most people that I would feed squirrels on purpose, it does keep them off of my bird feeders and they are quite the entertaining bunch to watch. We also have Blue Jays and Cardinals that frequent the squirrel feeder and it ends up being the hub of all activity in the back yard. Yesterday I noticed a new visitor to the feeder, helping himself to a peanut or two. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker not only stopped by, but came back several times to visit and thoroughly inspected our wooden fence for any bugs that might be yummy. This female Red-bellied Woodpecker was photographed at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, FL.
Over the weekend my family attempted to tidy the yard up to get ready for spring. Each year in February and March while the rest of the country is seeing new leaves bud on the trees that have been dormant all winter, our live oaks in the Tampa Bay area shed their leaves only to almost immediately get new ones. The oaks are commonly called “live oaks” because they are only without leaves for a couple of weeks. Because each tree seems to be on it’s own schedule, some are dropping leaves while others are releasing pollen and budding new leaves. As beautiful as the weather is right now, it’s a mess outside between the leaves and a fine yellow-green dust that covers everything.
With the cycle nearing an end, my family spent yesterday cleaning up the outdoor furniture, neatening up the flower beds, pruning the palms, and planting a few new flowers. While we spent the afternoon busy at work, there was a Red-bellied Woodpecker near by busy at work himself. He found a tree in my neighbor’s yard that must have had some tasty treats because he hammered away for several hours and kept us company all afternoon. Although I just recently shared a photo of another Red-bellied Woodpecker, I had them on the brain today and wanted to share another! This male was photographed at Honeymoon Island State park a few weeks ago.
This female Red-bellied Woodpecker posed for a few moments before ducking her head inside what I think is her nest to check on things at home. Named for the red patch on their bellies that is often hard to see, Red-bellied Woodpeckers are more easily recognized for their zebra-like black and white stripes on their backs and wings. Females like the one photographed here have a gray crown while their male counter parts have a red crown that extends from their beaks down the nape of their neck. A common woodpecker of Florida, you often hear them hammering away at something before you see them.