Saturday, March 24, 2007

Those Wacky Woodpeckers

Whether they're hopping in their jerky gait about the Maple tree in search of insects and grubs, or jostling for a place on the suet, Downy Woodpeckers are a constant source of entertainment and amusement to us.
There's something very endearing about these cute, clownish little birds. We've seen a couple of other woodpecker varieties at the feeders, but the Downy's are our everyday companions.

Male Downy woodpecker

They like the suet best, but also enjoy sunflower seed.

Stunned female woodpecker

This little lady had the unfortunate luck to fly into our sliding glass door a couple of weeks ago. Wings extended, she sprawled on the porch looking dazed, so I hurried out to see if she was OK. Cradling her in the palm of my hand, I called for hubby to please bring the camera (of course!). He held her while I took a few pictures, then I set her on the seed tray and talked softly to her. After a minute or two I was relieved to see her fly away to a nearby spruce tree. Thankfully this is a rare occurance.

Two males taking turns on the suet.

We often see two or more woodys vying for a spot on the suet.

Woody with a snowplow in the background Posted by Picasa

The males have a red spot on their head, but the females don't. We see mostly males.
You're probably wondering why the plow is out if there's no snow on the roads. The wind was blowing the snow across the road that day (one of the many) and he was pushing the snowbanks back.

Sometimes they'll share

I've seen as many as 5 in the Maple tree at once. Look closely to see two in this picture.

The Downys are not shy and will let me get quite close when I go out to fill the feeders.

I walked up the porch steps to within a few feet of this one to take the picture.

Hairy woodpecker

We see the bigger Hairy woodpeckers too, but not as often. They're very shy and I have a hard time capturing an image of them. Notice the bill is longer and they're around 7.5 inches (18.5 cm) compared with the Downy's 5.75 inches (14.5 cm).

Downy and Hairy Posted by Picasa

Just yesterday I was lucky enough to snap this picture of the two, with the Downy on the suet and the Hairy trying to chase him away. The bigger guy was hiding behind the post and peeking out at me before he worked up the courage to come into view and fly over to the suet. He was bolder than most Hairys.

Red-bellied woodpecker

For a few weeks in February and March we were pleased to see this Red-bellied woodpecker at the feeders. I've only seen one visit briefly perhaps twice during all the years we've lived here, so this was an exciting change for us. He was rather shy but I managed to get a couple of quick shots.

They're a little bigger than the Hairys at 8.5 inches (21.5 cm)

He fed on the suet, but he liked sunflower seed too.

The robins are back! I saw my first one on March 13th. As I was filling the feeders that morning it flew down from the Maple tree and twittered a happy hello to me. It did this twice more but flew away before I could get my camera :)

We've had some rainy, warmer days, with a mixture of sunshine and clouds, and most of the snow has melted. This afternoon is gloomy and wet....


Spring has finally sprung and we're rejoicing!

Thanks to everyone for your friendly comments on my 3rd wildflower post. I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my passion for those beautiful gifts of nature.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


PEA said...[Reply]

We have the Downy Woodpeckers here too and like you, it seems to be mostly males that we see feeding on the suet we have in the backyard. They really are so much fun to watch! I haven't been able to get wonderful pictures like yours of them, though! We haven't seen a robin here yet...that's usually our first sign of Spring! lol All our snow had left but today it snowed and now everything is white again...sigh! Oh well, we are still in March so it's to be expected. Take care dear Kerri! xox

InlandEmpireGirl said...[Reply]

Wow! What beautiful pictures of the woodpeckers. I can never get them to stay long enough to take pictures. It may be two dogs that are by my side. I agree... I think spring has finally sprung. It was a long time coming this year.

Terri said...[Reply]

How cool to be able to hold the lady woodpecker! The pictures are wonderful! Thanks Kerri.

Apple said...[Reply]

I'm looking forward to seeing woodpeckers this summer, there are usually a couple. I haven't seen a robin yet! The only geese I've seen are the ones that stayed the winter. Birds are so very hard to photograph but you always make it look so easy!

Motherkitty said...[Reply]

I love all the pictures of the woodpeckers. We have a red-headed woodpecker male and female who visit our feeders all day long. We love watching them compete with all the other birds vying for their turn at all the delicious treats we have out.

I once had a hummingbird knock himself out by flying into our storm door. I had to rush out and pick him up before one of the kitties got to him. I thought for sure he was dead but I stroked his side to encourage him to start breathing and pretty soon he woke up and eventually flew away.

Yes, spring has finally arrived and I'm happily working out in the yard daily. After a winter of being sedentary, it's a struggle doing everything I want to do (must be getting old or something). We are enjoying working out in the sunshine and the soft fresh air that the work is really a pleasure.

Hope you are having a great weekend and I hope all your snow has melted already.

JunieRose2005 said...[Reply]


What great pictures of the woodpeckers! We don't see them often here but it's always a thrill when we do !

So happy to have found your blog. It's a great place to visit!


Alice said...[Reply]

Such fantastic photos of the woodpeckers. You're really giving that camera a good workout and you've mastered it so well. I can't get enough of your photos.

Of course, I'm looking almost as much at the countryside as I am at the birds (you knew that, didn't you?). I'm sure the birds love you dearly for providing them with such a varied and plentiful diet throughout the year, but especially in the winter time.

I look at those snowy fields and I still can't imagine living with snow. I'm sure it makes you appreciate the other seasons all the more.

You've put so much work into this posting, Kerri, that you make me feel so bone idle. Even my painting can't compete with this excess of energy and zeal (but gee, the painting looks good - even if I say so myself).

LostRoses said...[Reply]

Oh, woodpecker bliss! You are so lucky to have so many, and those are great photos! Thanks for sharing them.

Hillside Garden said...[Reply]

Hi Kerri, you have still snow? Two days ago we had a little, wet and heavy but today I wait for sun and 13 degrees Celsius!

Next week I go to Britain, to see some springgardens. Wish you a nice eastertime.


Anonymous said...[Reply]

I think your name is all over town with the birds...Best food ever! You get such beautiful pictures and I really enjoy coming over and taking a look.

I hope your snow melts soon and the sun shines brightly.

Take care,

Alice said...[Reply]

I meant to ask if the woodpeckers damage your trees, or any wooden constructions?

Laurie & Chris said...[Reply]

You got some great shots of the woodpeckers. It must be so much fun watching all the birds at your feeders. Thanks for sharing your great photos.

Susie said...[Reply]

Hi Kerri!
Your shots of all these varieties of woodpeckers are great! I was so shocked to see the one in our yard for that brief time and here you have them lining up for the great food!!
You still have so much snow!!
I'm glad that you have such a springtimey heart filled with sunshine to share with all of us!!

Moi said...[Reply]

Beautiful pictures , Kerri!! and charming descriptions.......thanx for explaining how one could distinguish males from females......for an urban dweller like moi, ur pics are precious ...:)

Britt-Arnhild said...[Reply]

I love your bird photos.
We also have a regular wood pecker in our garden, but I have never managed to take a good photo of him. He is too shy.

OldRoses said...[Reply]

Your photos are incredible! I have a pair of downies and one or more red-bellied woodpeckers. I love watching all of the birds on the feeders but there is something special about the woodpeckers.

Sandy said...[Reply]

We don't see too many woodpeckers at our house, but in the country where my son & daughter live there are many.

My youngest daughter has a red-headed woodpecker who pounds his beak on part of a piece of metal driving her crazy with the constant loud pecking sound. She's so funny...she goes out flailing at the woodpecker to get him to fly off, but as soon as she is gone he returns. hehehe

Loved your woodpecker pictures. I need a better camera to be able to take bird shots without scaring them off. Of course if one flew into my glass door and fell over stunned I might be able to manage that. hahaha

Midlife Mom said...[Reply]

The pictures of the woodpeckers are great! We have them here but I haven't seen as many this winter, don't know why. There is a big tall dead tree that they nest in each spring though that I watch with my field glasses. So very interesting. Thanks for sharing the picutres!

Cris said...[Reply]

Great pictures! There seems to be a lot of snow there still. Have a great week!

mrsnesbitt said...[Reply]

What fantastic photos! I found your blog via a couple of others and what a lovely blog too. I have just started a new gardening blog as I am going to grow veg for the first time. I thought it would be a good way to get inspiration and help! LOL! Dx

Colleen said...[Reply]

I just love your woodpeckers, Kerri! I have a few downy woodpeckers who visit my yard, too, and I was happy to find, like you, that they're not very shy. They're so much fun to watch :-)

Great photos, as always!

Annie in Austin said...[Reply]

This was so much fun to see, Kerri - whatever you're doing to make all these birds come to be photographed, please don't stop!

You must be rejoicing at seeing the ground once again.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Sharon Kay said...[Reply]

I always look forward to all your pictures and the pictures of the woodpeckers are so cute. You must have a good camera to get such good pictures. But of course the camera also need you to snap a good picture. Have a wonderful Monday my friend.

judypatooote said...[Reply]

We use to have Woodpeckers around, but I haven't seen any lately... did you take those pictures through your window, or outside...if you took it though the window, your windows were really clean.....LOL I loved your pictures....and I'm glad Spring has finally sprung for you. Today it is 79 here....and sunny with a possibility of storms tonight.....I sat out in my chaise and read for a little while....

Sandy said...[Reply]

The other day when I was here many of the pictures were not showing up...I just got to see little x's where pictures should have been...So I'm back to see the rest of the pictures and they are adorable. You even got some good pictures of the highway dept clearing the roadways.

Hope all is calm there and your snow is on the way out.

BTW...I created a blog devoted to my furry friends and the link is on my sidebar under the heading of "My Other Blogs." Stop in and take a peek.

TUFFENUF said...[Reply]

Kerri, It just doesn't look like Spring with all that white stuff still on the ground. The photo with the woodpeckers in the tree is great, you can almost feel the crisp air in that blue sky!

LindaD said...[Reply]

Birds and flowers are my passions!! We have only one pair of Downy woodpeckers and one red bellied sapsucker but none of them have been seen yet this year. I learned to love the birds during our years in Maine where we were in a migration flyway. Absolutely beautiful pictures.. you draw us into the pictures.

Sissy said...[Reply]

What are you guys, the Audobon society??!! It's incredible the birds you get! I am sooo jealous!
We fed bluebirds, this morning, the mealworms, but no takers, so far...I would like to even see a woodpecker, much less hold one in my hand!!
Beautiful, Kerri!!

Sonia said...[Reply]

Beautiful photos as always, Terri!
I am glad that this little female woodpecker was fine and fly away!

jellyhead said...[Reply]

I'm jealous, too, that you were able to HOLD a woodpecker in your hand! I love the clear and pretty (and cold-looking...brrrrrrrr!)

PS I tagged you Kerri - see my latest post :)

Mountain Mama said...[Reply]

I haven't seen them here but wish we could. They are so sweet looking.

Memories Catcher said...[Reply]

Great shots.Beautiful birds.I like the colors and details.
I am glad that this little female woodpecker was fine and fly away!

Tammy said...[Reply]

You are such a friend to nature!!
PS...I've got a new blog on my name above.

Carol said...[Reply]

So nice to see the snow melting and spring coming to your part of the world now Kerri! You alsways take the best bird shots! I love your woddpecker photos!

Anita said...[Reply]

Kerri! I always very much enjoy your bird pictures but these woodpecker shots are absolutely amazing! Great!

I hope you'll as well share some bird photos with us this summer!

Happy spring!

Luis said...[Reply]

Could you do me a favor and help..

My father-in-Law chopped down this old tree and did not notice there was a woodpecker nest on it. Out came tumbling a little woodpecker. I have had to take care of it for the last 3 days. I have fed her grubs, bugs and flower seeds without salt.. mix dried fruit and whole wheat bread.. Can you tell me what I can do, besides let him/her fly when she is ready? What do they eat? I have seen 2 kinds of woodpeckers in my neighborhood, a Red Head one and a very.. very.. small spotted one.. It must have been no bigger than a regular humming bird..

The one I have is the red head.. Do they make good pets?

Kerri said...[Reply]

Luis, woodpeckers like to eat suet and they also eat sunflower seeds. Our local supermarket has fresh suet packaged in the meat department, or you can buy suet blocks from a hardware or big box store. I like the pure suet best for woodpeckers.
I'd suggest contacting Cornell Lab of Ornithology to learn more about caring for the young bird until it can fly. They may be able to suggest a wildlife rehabilitator in your area. It's illegal to keep wild animals as pets but I wouldn't be surprised if the woodpecker stays around. They're friendly birds.
Here's a link to Cornell's bird site: