For several days we noticed that the Hairy Woodpecker was changing the pattern of feeding the little male. The mother would take longer to bring food, bring less food, and then fly away before a full feeding. We knew it was only a matter of time before this little guy was going to have to feed himself.
On Saturday, my husband called me and said, "I think it's about to happen." I grabbed the camera and watched.
The little Hairy sits for a while, trying to decide what to do. Mom doesn't come back. He is hungry and he knows where Mom gets the food. But it looks really far away. After several false starts, he decides to fly closer to the feeder.
He looks at the feeder from all angles.
He decides to try to get closer, this time by perching on the side of the house.
After that first clumsy attempt, the little Hairy quickly became skilled at flying directly to the feeder. It's rather like riding a bicycle...once you get the hang of it, it's a piece of cake. We have come to call the tree nearest the suet feeder the launching tree. We suspect the Pileateds are about ready to stop feeding their little girl. Both parents are coming to the tree with her, and flying back and forth to the feeder several times before giving her anything to eat. I hope I can get some pictures of her first trip to the suet. And I REALLY hope they are of better quality.