Baby Woodpeckers at the Feeder

Don’t you love this time of year?  I probably should take my feeders down in the summer.  There are plenty of insects and natural food available for the birds but I can’t resist the chance to see the babies close up as they try to figure out how to get a quick and easy meal.  I have three species of woodpeckers visiting my small upside-down suet feeder; Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied.  We also have Northern Flickers nesting in the yard and are visited by Pileated Woodpeckers but only the previous three species visit the little feeder by my kitchen window.  Unlike many species where all the work is left to the female, both sexes of woodpeckers are excellent parents and both sexes develop brood patches so they can take turns sitting on the eggs.

In this picture you can just make out Mr. Red-belly's brood patch (where the feathers separate between his legs).

In this picture you can just make out Mr. Red-belly’s brood patch (where the feathers separate between his legs).

Later both parents teach the young the life skills they need to survive.  I watched Mr. Hairy Woodpecker patiently feeding his two demanding daughters and then take a big chunk off, presumably to Mrs. Hairy Woodpecker who may well now be on her next clutch of eggs.  One of the Downy babies has something wrong with one of her legs.  She can only hold on with one foot.  She seems to be able to extend the other foot a tiny bit more each day, so I think it will be usable in a few days.  Even if it isn’t, she seems able to cope quite well.

This Downy Baby Can Only Use One Foot

This Downy Baby Can Only Use One Foot

 

Here are a few “baby pictures.”

Is This How It's Done?

Is This How It’s Done?

A Young Hairy Woodpecker Waits Her Turn

A Young Hairy Woodpecker Waits Her Turn

Young Red-bellied Woodpeckers Have Brown Heads

Young Red-bellied Woodpeckers Have Brown Heads

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