Gorgeous reds

Another sunny day, perfect for highlighting some of the bright colors in our local birds.  Sitting at the window of the 4-season porch processing photos from our morning Audubon walk (38 species in less than 2 hours!), I saw this gorgeous redhead fly into the oaks at the back of our lot.

This photo was taken at 400 mm and cropped, so you can see how far away the bird was (but still how sharp the lens is!)

This photo was taken at 400 mm and cropped, so you can see how far away the bird was (but still how sharp the lens is!)

I don’t think I have seen Red-headed Woodpeckers in my backyard in past years. Apparently their numbers are declining due to competition for nest site holes and habitat loss (fewer large dead trees).  The bird obliged me by flying closer to the house to inspect the broken limb of a walnut.

The species is well-named:  Melanerpes erthyrocephalus (literally, red-head).

The species is well-named: Melanerpes erthyrocephalus (literally, red-head).

I wish they would hang around in my backyard, but suburban trees might not offer what they need.

I wish they would hang around in my backyard, but suburban trees might not offer what they need.

While standing around in the backyard trying to get a closer view of my red-headed friend, a cardinal flew in to visit the bird feeder I was standing next to.  The late afternoon light really lit up his plumage nicely.

Northern Cardinal

I purposely cropped off most of his tail to get rid of the ugly post where he was sitting.

I purposely cropped off most of his tail to get rid of the ugly post where he was sitting.

11 thoughts on “Gorgeous reds

  1. Red-headed woodpeckers are getting scarcer and scarcer around here, too, preferring huge, old-growth live oaks. Since they are the only woodpecker in these parts that consumes large quantities of mast along with their insect diet, the trees are critical for them. I think they are the most beautiful of all the woodpeckers. And indeed, one of the most beautiful of our birds, period. SUPER photos! And of course, who does’t love cardinals? Mine are nesting for the second time already.

      • Well, there ARE those lumberjack starlings, who insist on sawing down the big oak trees. I’m just sayin’…………………………….

  2. Wow! Many of the birds in your yard fly my way. Sure hope this happens with the Red headed wood pecked, haven’t seen one in years. Maryann

    Sent from my iPad

    • Keep watching, just an hour before the RHW showed up, an oriole stopped by, along with kinglets, a pack of hungry yellow-rumped warblers, and equally ravenous white-throated sparrows.

  3. Beauties! Really love the woodpecker, particularly that second shot. That pose is great. Cardinals are also beautiful birds. I don’t get to see them here…were out of their range in Colorado. It’s nice to see photos of them online.

  4. I love your reds, Sue. I’ve never seen a Red-headed Woodpecker before and you got some good shots. The vibrant colors and details on the cardinal are really nice too.

    • Like their cousins the acorn woodpeckers, the RHW store acorns and beech nuts in the crevices of large oak and beech trees. You might be able to find them in mature forest with big trees and little undergrowth. They like oak savanna and also swampier forest. Supposedly, they are resident year-round in your area, but their numbers are declining.

      • One of the local birders got a shot of one a month or so ago, but I haven’t seen a RHW myself. The marshland park where I do a lot of my shooting is not a mature forest at all, so it may not be an ideal location for them.

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