A Red-Bellied Woodpecker at Lynde Shores Conservation Area

A Red-Bellied Woodpecker at Lynde Shores Conservation Area

Red-bellied Woodpecker - takes a break after eats snow - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

With a gusty northwest wind blowing, Bob and I headed to Lynde Shores Conservation Area in Whitby, Ontario.  We wondered if the Red-bellied Woodpecker was still lingering in the woods there, and sure enough, I heard its repeated chiff-chiff and rolling churrr before actually spotting the Woodpecker on a nearby tree.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) back of head & body - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

We were pleased that the sun was shining since it served to highlight the woodpecker’s plumage to a better advantage than the previous time we had sighted this bird.  In particular, the striking black-and-white zebra-like barring on the back and wings really stood out against the grey bark of the tree trunk.

Lynde Shores Conservation Area - snowy forest - Whitby - Ontario

Lynde Shores Conservation Area is composed of various types of terrain, but the Red-bellied Woodpecker seems to favour the forested area next to the creek and accessible to the well-stocked bird feeders.  Generous donors had the trays overflowing with peanuts in the shell.

Red-bellied Woodpecker - red head - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is often mistaken for the Red-Headed Woodpecker, …

Red-bellied Woodpecker - red belly with claws - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

but it is the red suffusion on the belly that gives this woodpecker its name.  It is hard to see in both sexes.

Red-bellied Woodpecker - gets a peanut - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) holds peanut - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

This broken off crag in a treetop seemed to be one of the woodpecker’s preferred perches.  Perhaps he was able to lodge the peanut shell into the slits of wood where it would be held fast while the woodpecker broke it open.

Red-bellied Woodpecker - eats snow 1 - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

Seeing as there is no water available to drink in the nearby vicinity of the woods, with the creek being aptly frozen over, the woodpecker, and other birds we sighted, turn to eating snow or melting snow for refreshment.

Red-bellied Woodpecker - eats snow 4 - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

Numerous times, the Red-bellied woodpecker dipped his beak  into the cavity and came up with his beak glistening with snow.

Red-bellied Woodpecker - eats snow -sticks out tongue - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

Take note of the woodpecker’s tongue in this picture.  It is very fine.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) on side of tree - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

Red-bellied Woodpecker - twists head 180 degrees back - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

It really surprised Bob and me as to the flexibility of the Red-bellied Woodpecker’s neck.  It was capable of turning its head almost 180-degrees.

Red-bellied Woodpecker - gives me a big look - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

Red-bellied Woodpecker - time for a snooze - Lynde Shores - Whitby - Ontario

I guess the Red-bellied Woodpecker was lulled by the warm rays of the sunshine much as we tried to remain bathed in its glow to try to offset the frigid polar air.  It appeared that he might have a sleep…but no.  The next thing we knew, it darted away into the distance.

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  • What a lovely bird – he looks like a certain David Bowie 🙂



  • Fantastic closeups. A beautiful bird. It is very hard to see the red on the belly, so thank you for those pictures. I have noticed the juncos, chickadees, and other birds that come to my feeder, eat the snow on the tree branches. I am really enjoying your blog. Thank you.

    • I am so glad you are enjoying our blog. Bob and I take great pleasure in getting outdoors and discovering all the delightful birds that make their homes there.