The Red-Bellied Woodpecker looks very similar to the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker elsewhere in this blog. Unlike most woodpeckers, Red-Bellies eat lots of plant material and seldom excavate the wood for insects. They forage in trees, on the ground, and even on the wing, eating insects, seeds, nuts, and fruit - sometimes tree sap, bird eggs, and small amphibians. Their "red bellies" are just a small area that is difficult to see in the field. Red-Bellied Woodpeckers live more than 20 years.
Male Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker
The Female does not have the continuous red cap that the male does.
This little Nuthatch is a strange-looking creature as it moves
headfirst down a tree trunk while foraging for invertebrates, seemingly not knowing which way is "up". It is
known for wedging nuts and seeds into crevices and hacking them open
with its beak. They nest in natural cavities in large deciduous trees,
or even make use of abandoned woodpecker nests.
This Nuthatch poses with a nut he has wedged in the tree bark.
The White-Breasted Nuthatch is a common visitor to backyard feeders, but I have personally not seen any at mine yet. These were taken at Lake McClellan in the panhandle.
I bought a small bag of salted in-shell peanuts and put them out for the birds. I'm glad it was a small bag, because it's not a good idea to use salted peanuts for birds. It's better to use unsalted peanuts for birds. The Blue Jays simply love peanuts in the shell, but the salted ones are not good for them. Too much salt is just as bad for them as it is us. So, later today I'll get some unsalted peanuts - in the shell.
It's fun to watch the Blue Jays snatch them up and fly off to eat them nearby. Sometimes they'll take them about 10 yards away and eat them on the
ground. Sometimes they'll head for the branches of a tree. This Jay
found a 6" branch with an appropriate spot in our elm tree where he could safely open it
up and "chow down" before returning for another.
This morning while checking my feeders, I heard the "tap-tap-tapping" common to woodpeckers. As I watched the branches of our Elm tree for the source of the sound, I caught sight of a bright red spot popping out from behind one. This is what I saw:
The Ladder-Backed Woodpecker often feeds and nests in cacti in the Southwest. It's a small woodpecker that mainly feeds on insects such ants and beetles. Females generally like to feed in upper branches, whereas males tend to feed closer to the trunk or near the ground. This male was, however, feeding in the upper branches. The Ladder-Backed Woodpecker is a year-round resident of the panhandle, albeit being a "rare to common" resident. They nest in trees, cacti, agave, yucca, or even a utility pole. The nests are likely drilled by the males, and lined with wood chips.
I found this photo from a couple years ago - April of 2010. It apparently slipped under my radar and I never identified it or pursued it.
The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker winters in the panhandle. It "drills" wells in tree bark serve to collect sap, and attract bugs. The Sapsucker makes the rounds visiting its "wells" and eating the bugs it attracts. It also eats the sap, not by sucking as its name suggests, but lapping it up with its tongue - which resembles a paint brush.
This blog is intended to show the wide variety of birds we have coming, going, and residing in the Texas Panhandle. I consider it a challenge to personally photograph as many species and varieties of birds in the panhandle as I can as I go about my life. I will try to make entries as accurate as possible. I am a photographer, not a bird expert. Please feel free to correct me if any information I put here is in error. This is a work in progress. Enjoy our birds as I enjoy photographing them.