A NEW BIRD – Marilyn Armstrong

I knew we had another couple of other woodpeckers. We have a full red-headed one — not the big Pileated Woodpecker — but a smaller one who is as rare as the big one. Maybe more so. This woodpecker is not rare, at least in the way that birds are counted … but he doesn’t show up much, either.

Gold-Fronted Woodpecker with a Junco

This one is a Golden Fronted Woodpecker. I’ve seen him before but never had a chance to get a picture of him. The woodpeckers — collectively — are early and late eaters, not middle of the day feeders. They feed before I finish getting my coffee put together.

Bright head of the Gold-Fronted Woodpecker

This morning, the oil delivery truck showed up very early and I had to hustle the dogs inside the house. I turned on the coffee … and there he was! Not the one with the solid red-head, but a completely different one. In appearance, closer to a flicker than a woodpecker, but The Book says he is a Gold Fronted Woodpecker and he is quite lovely.

He also only eats from the flat feeder from which I have a very difficult time getting pictures. I managed to get these, however. The odd blind slat reflection is exactly what it looks like — a reflection of our living room blinds on the glass in the dining room.

It’s difficult to take pictures when it is sunny early in the day. The sun shines almost directly in through the back French doors creating a lot of refraction, reflection and odd bounces of light.

Today, I got pictures.

For your amusement and amazement, here is our Golden Fronted Woodpecker. With a black ladder-back and gold around his beak and wings, and one scarlet (almost dark orange) patch on his head. A lovely fellow!

Categories: Birds, Blackstone Valley, Nature, Photography, Wildlife

Tags: , , , ,

37 replies

    • You could be right but my book shows that patch as anything from bright yellow to dark orange and all the red-bellied ones I’ve seen don’t have the gold patch over their beak. Also, the picture in Peterson is a bit different than THAT picture. I originally thought he was a yellow-shafted Northern Flicker, but he doesn’t have the black band around his neck – but only the mature males have that. He was back this morning again, but by the time I got my camera in hand, he was off into the woods, so I’ll have to wait for the next time.

      He really doesn’t look like the red-bellied woodpecker, though. Different body shape. Different head shape. More like a flicker, less like the woodpeckers, as if they’d mated and this was the result. And his body isn’t white and black — he’s definitely golden or tan/yellow all over his body. To be fair, he doesn’t look exactly like ANY of the illustrations and none of the illustrations look exactly like the birds. All the red-bellies I’ve seen are absolutely black and white with a patch of red on their heads (boys) and NO red patch for the girls (I’m assuming they are the girls — unless they are a really big downy).

      I have come to recognize that birds don’t always look like the pictures on websites or in books.

      The laddering may be slightly askew, the red patch may be very small or quite large. It often looks like a cross between two of them. If I get another look at him I might know more … but it was the gold above the beak, you know? And the gold under the wings and none of the other woodpeckers shows that color anywhere on their bodies. The others are ALL black and white, no gold, no beige, no tan — and not gold above the beak and I have a LOT of pictures of them. This one still could be a Northern Flicker –either female OR immature. Do you wonder if these guys are so closely related that they mate and turn out babies who don’t look like the book pictures at all?

      And he still might be a yellow-shafted Northern Flicker (either a female or immature). Identification is the fun part, isn’t it? He/she is still absolutely beautiful.


  1. She’s a female Red Bellied Woodpecker. They like suet usually, and are most often found on trees seeking out insects in trunks https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-bellied_Woodpecker/media-browser/64995061 Thye have a very distinct call, they make themselves known when they are around


    • Actually, he looks like the male, but without the red patch on top of his head (immature?) — but he doesn’t look like the female (too golden/beige) except the patch is a darker orange. He doesn’t look like either of them and my red-bellied ones don’t look like either of them. Some of my red-bellied are probably male downies and some of the big black and white ones are probably Hairies and back in the woods, there is one BiG Pileated who has never come close enough to the house to photograph.

      If I need I to have a problem, I’m really enjoying this one.


    • I can’t hear them through the doors and walls of the house, so I’ll have to take your word on the call.

      I don’t hang suet. These guys seem okay with seeds. I’d have to buy another feeder for suet and I don’t have anywhere to put another one.


  2. Hopefully, he or she doesn’t peck a hole in your flat feeder… or the squirrels are going to be ticked!


  3. Handsome bird, and in that last picture? Looking quite satisfied with himself. Thanks for sharing those! 🙂


    • I was really thrilled to meet a new member of our “forest team.” There are even more back there, but some are just not comfortable that close to human living space … and others don’t like the food. I’ve bought the best I can find that should feed the greatest variety of birds, but there’s always a holdout!


    • Isn’t he though? I think he is the best-looking bird I’ve seen. I didn’t even know he existed until I looked him up. First, I thought he was a flicker, but by coloration — the gold around his beak especially and that deep orange patch on his head (it isn’t really red), he’s definitely a Golden Fronted Woodpecker. Apparently, these are considered “common,” but it’s the first one I’ve seen.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a handsome lad. 😀


  5. Your photos are really clear of them too


  6. He’s a beauty. Just passing through?
    Wonder if we get an early Spring this year?


    • No, he’s a local, just not usually a feeder bird. I’ve spotted him before, but he never stayed put long enough for me to get the camera up and focused. We have at least three other woodpeckers that I’ve spotted, but not yet photographed. Some of them are just shy and don’t like being that close to human houses. Others don’t eat what we put in the feeders … and some get up earlier than I do, so I miss them.


  7. Careful Marilyn. Smacks of the early stages of an addiction…😉

    Ever read the book, The Big Year? I loved it as an audible. The movie was just OK.

    Gotta go now. I heard my Covey outside under the feeder!


  8. There’s nothing more heartening on a gloomy winter’s day than to have some lovely bird visitors. Splendid shots.


  9. Well isn’t he a gorgeous fellow


  10. Isn’t it a wonderful experience to capture something new in the bird world


  11. Very impressive pictures.


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