Saturday, April 19, 2008

A drumming red-bellied woodpecker

A tapping outside my study window caught my attention this morning. I looked up and saw a male red-bellied woodpecker tapping on the gutter at the edge of the porch. Our gutters are made of coated heavy metal, so the sound was loud. After a look at some references, I confirmed my thought that the drumming behavior is about territory marking and attracting a mate. Woodpeckers often use created structures (utility poles, shutters, wooden buildings, etc.) to drum on, so our gutter was standing in for a tree.

Red-bellied woodpeckers are widespread in the Eastern U.S., and relatively common because they're adaptable to suburban habitats and cities which have plenty of trees. They drill into wood to excavate the wood-boring insects that make up part of their diet.

My camera was sitting on the desk, so I was able to get a couple of quick images before he departed.

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