Early morning rescue on a busy roadway. Flipped a U-turn for this female woodpecker (Red-bellied woodpecker) laying in the road not moving. With concerns of a possible nest nearby we decided it best to check her out right away. She seemed perfectly fine as if it was more of being in shock from something. After moving and sitting in traffic she started to look like she wanted to fly off. So, we spent about 20 minutes in a nearby parking lot with her until she took off into the trees. Definitely an unexpected bird to find.
As you can see from the above photo we are fairly confident this was a female. After a few moments off the road and in the truck she became a bit more active showing us that she was probably stunned from something. A topside she didn’t choose to fight and instead froze until we were able to get to the nearby parking lot. Woodpeckers will freeze motionless against the trunk of a tree and will not return to normal activities for up to ten minutes at times instead of fighting what they believe to be a threat.
About Red-bellied Woodpeckers
Red-bellied woodpeckers are medium sized birds with a distinctive black-and-white patterned back and a long, chisel-shaped bill. Adults weigh about 72.5 grams (range 56 to 91 g) and are 22.9 to 26.7 cm long. They have a wingspan of 38 to 46 cm. Males are about 8-9% larger, on average, than females. Two characteristics that distinguish red-bellied woodpeckers from woodpeckers are the black and white zebra stripe pattern on their backs, and their red belly (which is actually just a very small patch on their underside). Their face and the rest of their belly are a dull grayish color. Male, red-bellied woodpeckers have a bright red cap from their forehead to the base of their neck. Females have red only on their necks. Both males and females have thick, black straight bills and dark gray legs and feet. Source
Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Almost all birds native to the United States, including their nests and eggs, are protected by a federal law that has been in place since 1918. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects more than a thousand species of birds, including woodpeckers. Don’t let the name fool you though, protection is not limited to only individual birds or species that migrate.
All species of woodpeckers are classified as migratory non-game birds and are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Red-cockaded (Picoides borealis) and ivory-billed woodpeckers (Campephilus principalis) are on the Endangered Species list and are offered full protection.
A red bellied woodpecker (ID 14) featured photo (top photo) by Tibor Nagy