AT HOME WITH THE RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS

They are as married as woodpeckers can be. These are our Red-Bellied Woodpeckers. They don’t have a red belly except in the most distant way, but there’s already a red-headed woodpecker, so they became red-bellied. They have a nest in this tree and you can see all the woodpecker holes in it. This dying tree has been a major food source not only for these woodpeckers, but for all the woodpeckers.

It’s a very popular tree for more than woodpeckers. The nuthatches drop by to grab a snack, as do the blue jays, bluebirds, and robins. Chickadees are bug-centric too. It turns out most birds (except finches) enjoy a good, plump insect. The finches are seed-eaters (only), just as the bluebirds and robins are exclusively bug-nivores.

Talk about centered, this is a fully centered Red-Bellied Woodpecker staring right at me. I see him while he sees me. But I have the camera.

This dying tree is not long for this world. If it weren’t so close to the house, we’d let it die at its own pace and fall where it will, but it’s adjacent to the deck and very close to the house. While I don’t think it can fall on the house (it’s not tall enough), it could still do some serious damage to the fence and the deck. As soon as we can save the money, it will minimally lose its upper branches.

The birds will be mourning for their favorite tree. I already miss it. When it was healthy, it shaded the deck and allowed me to grow some amazing fuchsia. Now, with almost all its leaves gone and the branch that hung over the deck removed a couple of years ago, there’s no shade until late in the afternoon. The birds love it and there are at least two pairs of red-bellied woodpeckers nesting in it. I think there may be a couple of other smaller woodpecker nests in it too.



Categories: Anecdote, Blackstone Valley, Gallery, Photography, woodland, Woodpeckers

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4 replies

  1. I have a family of woodpeckers that have taken up residence in my area. I love them to bits even though they terrorize the smaller finches. I don’t mind them chasing the pesky magpies but the little birds are and have been here for much longer. I do wish I had some larger trees but there are plenty in the grazing areas just behind my yard. Of course it’s always a challenge to get my camera ready and in position to snap a shot before they cackle and retreat to the fruit trees!

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    • I have done my best to try and convince the doves to get out of the feeder and move on and the big woodpeckers from ceasing to bully the finches and wrens, but they will do what they do. It’s impossible to convince birds to be polite to each other. In winter, though, the are better at sharing — even with the downy woodpeckers. They don’t fight. They stare. Sometimes, if it’s one of the bigger birds, like Blue Jays, they lift their wings ever so slightly — a warning. I have never seen them actually do anything more than hint that they might get annoyed.

      These two were probably born in this yard. In fact, I think most of the birds we see regularly were born here and this was the first place they ever ate, so even if I run out of seeds for a day or two, they will always comes back. We are home.

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  2. HOLY DOODLE! those are awesome Marilyn!

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    • They are beautiful and somehow more special as a pair. I think these two were born here. They have always lived in this yard, in this tree. They do chase the smaller birds and I have learned that with the best will in the world, you can’t discipline wild birds. Bigger birds will chase smaller ones — but at least they don’t actually EAT them. The hawks are not fussy and will eat small birds.

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