Abundant | Birding | Photography

New York. Birding. Nature.

Every creative endeavor has its own unique set of challenges. Photography is no different. Nature Photography as a subset and Bird Photography as a niche within that specialty has a variety of challenges.

I have written about challenges and successes I have had photographing different birds over the years. Overcoming challenges in ones work can be exhilarating. But sometimes having a particular challenging aspect cease to exist for us as artists can simply be refreshing.

One particular challenge faced by bird photographers is finding a subject. This is especially true if the photographer is trying to create images of a specific species of birds. It can be a great thrill to successfully capture high quality photographs of an elusive subject. I even wrote about that very thing in a 2011 post: Elusive Red-Bellied Woodpecker.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Woodpecker. Birding. New York.
Red-Breasted Woodpecker in the sun in New York.

Fortunately this post is not one of those posts. I am writing about the exciting and unexpected abundance of photographic opportunities I have had recently with that very species of bird. Red-Bellied Woodpeckers are present year round in our region, but they are not considered common birds. As in they are not birds you would just expect to see regularly.

This year has been different. We have always had bird feeders placed outside with sunflower seeds in them for the birds and we enjoy watching the birds. We occasionally see uncommon birds, but regularly see the birds you would expect like chickadees and finches. However, this year we regularly see Red-Bellied Woodpeckers at our feeders.

When I say regularly I mean almost every day. When I think of common woodpeckers to see I think of Downy Woodpeckers. They are small and will often frequent feeders. This year I think we have had the Red-Bellied Woodpecker at our feeders more than any other species of woodpecker.

We have had both male and female Red-Bellied Woodpeckers at our feeders. It has been nice to see them every day and anticipate having opportunities to photograph them. The timing doesn’t always work out. I don’t always get to create my art with Red-Bellied Woodpeckers as my subject when I go out to photograph the birds, but I am satisfied to see them regularly and know that they are still around.

The fact that I am seing them regularly takes the preasure off of the creative process. Sometimes there is a very limnited window in which to create images, but with these woodpeckers being present so regularly it eases that feeling. I can relax and find the right time to create high quality images and if things don’t work out on a given occassion it is ok.


New York. Birding. Nature.
Red-Breasted Woodpecker looking around from it’s perch in an oak tree.

I do not have very many photographs of Red-Bellied woodpeckers, especially compared to other species of birds. I recently sat outside for long stretches and just enjoyed their company in the trees. I took a lot of photographs of them. I probably took way more than I needed to and in situations that probably would not really result in great photographs due to lighting or positioning, but I was just so happy to see them I wanted to take as many photos as I could.

I really didn’t think that I would have as abundant an opportunity as I ended up having. In my experience Red_Bellied Woodpeckers are more timid and elusive. They don’t often approach me or stay around when I make myself known. During this attempt at creating some birding photography I was pleasantly surprised when the woodpeckers revealed them selves and returned time after time.


New York Woodpecker. Bird Watching.
Red-Breasted Woodpecker perched in Oak Tree.

I was especially surprised when the woodpecker landed right on the railing of the deck not too far from where I was sitting. This allowed me to create an image like no other I have in the past. Then the Red-Red Bellied Woodpecker took the surprise a step further and flew to the the feeder we have hanging right outside our window while I was outside watching and photographing.

The woodpecker flew even closer to the house than I was while I was outside. I was not prepared for that. I wasn’t even in a position to create a good photo of a bird at that feeder because I did not expect to have the opportunity to photograph a bird there. I was actually able to maneuver myself into position to take photos of the woodpecker while it clung to the feeder and retrieved a sunflower seed. The resulting photograph isn’t the highest quality in my opinion because of the side of the house being in the frame but it was an exciting opportunity none the less.

If you want to see more of theses photos I added a few more photographs of the Red-Bellied Woodpecker to my Song Bird Gallery.

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Woodpecker at bird feeder
Red Breasted Woodpecker at the bird feeder by our house. I used a lot of vignetting to obscure the parts of the image I didn’t really like.

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