Family Resemblance


Doesn’t this bird look a lot like a red-bellied woodpecker?

This is a red-crowned woodpecker (Melanerpes rubricapillus), photographed by Charlie Hickey in Costa Rica.

There are nine Melanerpes woodpeckers that look very similar.  Most of them live in the tropics; some are island species.  I’ve noted below where you can see three species in the U.S.

Biologically speaking, this is more than a “family” resemblance  It’s at the genus level.

(photo by Charlie Hickey)

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