This first picture is just a teaser for the lovely one I tracked down 2 days ago.
This little beauty is a Downy Woodpacker…I believe I have posted pictures of them before and I only include this because they are so CUTE and absolutely unafraid.
They come to our feeders and while they won’t eat the regular seeds they LOVE the suet blocks.
This is on a dead tree on the edge of our front yard.
Now to the main attraction.
For the past 2 or 3 weeks I have heard the LOUD and persistent hammering of a woodpecker on a distant tree.
Several years ago we had one who tapped away on our steel mast for our then used T.V. antenna tower.
Since there were obviously no bugs to be had we figured out he was using the reverberations of the hollow metal tower to announce his presence….maybe for mating…maybe as a warning to other males….I don’t know.
Finally my curiosity got the better of me 2 days ago and I decided to track down the NEW culprit.
After quite a long hike in the woods, every minute hoping you are getting closer, I heard him again.
Now I hear him loudly tapping only for about 3 seconds every 5 minutes or so and although I could have moved more quickly IF I chanced upon him too quickly he might either fly away or be quiet and not let me know where he was.
About an hour later I knew I was close and yard by yard I moved closer until I could see him.
They’re QUITE shy and the sight of a human will usually make they leave for a long time so I had to move up on him ONLY when he tapped…a foot or so at a time until I figured I wouldn’t be able to get any closer without jepordizing my chances for a decent shot.
The first shot shows him at an old hollow dead tree which he was using I believe as a megaphone to make himself heard.
It was, by the way, EASILY heard several miles away.
As I crept closer he moved to another tree very close by and I thought I might have frightened him away but no….he was not at a purpose-built hole for his/her young…..in other words a nest.
They create one in a nearly-dead tree and hollow it out JUST big enough for them, line it with wood chips they have created and it’s all done.
The next three show him in profile and as I got closer I saw him insert nearly his whole body in the cavity and a second later he’s outside…making it bigger.
According to my bird book these birds get to an astounding size of 41-48 cm…..about 17-23 inches…..that’s pretty big.
I reckon this was in the smaller range although all these pics were taken at 200 mm as he got twitchy as I moved closer so judging size was pretty difficult..
Quite an adventure for me…lasting well over 2 hours in all and I think WELL SPENT!