Red-Bellied Woodpecker has a mouthf full of wood chips

Red-Bellied Ptooey!


I wonder. Does the standard onomatopoeia for ‘spitting’ apply to woodpeckers?

Ptooey is a brilliant onomatopoetic expression, but I’ve never had my ear quite close enough to hear a Red-Bellied Woodpecker spit.

I need to take a photography class, so I can show you the look of concentration on the bird’s face the instant he spews the chips. That class is on my to-do list. But the good news is, you can see the bird’s determined demeanor on video if you keep scrolling.

I watched for days as this fellow worked to open a hole in our tree.

A Red-Bellied Woodpecker scatters a mouthful of wood chips
Red-Bellied Woodpecker chip scatter

It takes about two weeks for a pair of Red-Bellied Woodpeckers to complete a nest cavity. I never noticed his mate on the worksite, although I understand that the female does help with the digging.  A woodpecker biologist recently told me that the male usually does all the nighttime incubation and brooding (what a guy!) and a good portion of that daytime work, too. We do need to give credit to the female for laying the egg, and she participates equally in feeding duty. Still, I’d say she’s got a pretty good deal in woodpecker life.

Back to the spitting. Watch the video, and I think you’ll agree it’s mighty impressive.

I wouldn’t say this bird is a particularly speedy spitter. But his shimmy-shake adds a certain style to his chip spit, don’t you think?

8 thoughts on “Red-Bellied Ptooey!”

  1. Carol, this is brilliant! What I love about these posts is how much you love your subjects. This one made me laugh out loud. Here’s a dad who feels very much a part of the whole family-making project, and it shows in his energy. I’m really enjoying your comments on each video–so much I didn’t know and haven’t taken the time to observe on my own. Thank you!

    1. Thank you! I laugh all the time at what goes on outside my window! Then, I laugh again as I review my folders full of video footage, looking for fun and interesting behavior to write about. I’m so glad you’re enjoying my posts!

  2. So glad to see this woodpecker post. Woodpeckers are seldom seen in our new place. How I have missed them. Yesterday we saw a red bellied woodpecker dining on the many bugs he (or she) could find around the roof edge of our garage. I remember timpani trees from our woods in Michigan. You are fortunate to have a variety of woodpeckers. The Flicker is a favorite! Enjoyed the videos, Carol. Keep the posts coming!

    1. Carol, I am indeed fortunate to have so many woodpeckers in the neighborhood. They give me lots of material for posts, that’s for sure!

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