Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The "Cha" Call of the Red-bellied Woodpecker

While enjoying some quiet time within the woodland behind my house, I had the good luck to hear and then see a red-bellied woodpecker.  (This is a recent photo of one at my feeder.) Through the years, I've posted on seeing and hearing the red-bellied woodpecker on numerous occasions, but that's because I learn something new with each encounter. This time, I learned that the red-belly's "Cha" call reminds me of a scolding squirrel.

The fact is that in prior posts, when discussing this woodpecker's sounds, I've discussed his "Kwirrr" call--a quite distinctive sound that once heard and recognized you don't forget. But today while reclining under some tall white pines, I listened for some time to a noisy avian inhabitant who I could not see, only hear. He appeared to be widely circling within the trees beneath which I lay.  Since I could not see him, I focused on his sounds, testing my memory that offered only one suggestion--which I knew to be wrong--a scolding squirrel.  So I thought: What bird do I know that sounds something like a scolding squirrel? As in answer to my question, the mystery bird landed high above me on the slim bole of a white pine, only briefly, but long enough for me to identify him as a woodpecker. 

Even so, I wasn't sure which woodpecker because the sighting was too brief. That didn't matter since I needed only to listen to the calls of woodpeckers (provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on its Allaboutbirds web site) and the answer would be mine. And so I listened to those woodpeckers specific to this region of the country and voila--I found my woodpecker: my own dear red-bellied woodpecker seen by me on so many occasions and yet revealed anew to me this day.

Check the link below for the various sounds of this red-bellied woodpecker, most likely a close neighbor to you.


Until next time . . . Keep birds in your heart!

Georgia Anne Butler

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