A few days ago my wife spotted an unfamiliar bird at our bird feeder. We pulled out our Stokes guide and identified him as a male Red-Bellied Woodpecker. I mentioned seeing it to the expert bird watcher in our family, Chet. I was delighted to discover that he had never seen one in Massachusetts.
My curiosity piqued, this led me to a Google search where I discovered a terrific website called eBird.org. Run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, eBird allows birders from across the country to record their observations in one central database.
Red-Bellied Woodpeckers are common in the Southeast United States, but are slowly moving north. According to observations submitted to eBird, Massachusetts is now at the northern boundary of their range.
Using their mapping tools I discovered that the last reported sighting of a Red Belly in my area of Massachusetts was in October. I dutifully reported our sighting using their submission form. I will keep a look out to see if he returns to the feeder...