LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Little Hairy Woodpecker

[Disclaimer: These pictures are technically pretty bad, and a month ago I wouldn't have posted them. They were shot under the worst of conditions; at an acute angle through a glass door, with the sun shining directly on me and the camera. I didn't dare wait to get the camera bonnet and I wanted you to see this great sight.]


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 is parked on the tree as usual.

He watches his mother go to the feeder and waits a long, long time.


He is stunned to see his mother totally ignore his hunger. She flies far into the woods.
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.
Now what? I still don't know how to get up there.
He looks at the feeder from all angles.
It's just too far away.
He decides to try to get closer, this time by perching on the side of the house.
He clings there for a while, and decides to go for it.

He makes it on the very first try.
Finally, the little Hairy Woodpecker has something to eat.
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.

11 comments:

The Birdlady said...

Oh, I'm SO glad you didn't decide not to post these - it was delightful, sharing this little growing-up ritual. Thanks, Caroline.

Cicero Sings said...

This reminds me of the chickadees yesterday. The little ones were learning to take a bath in our burbling fountain. All but one had managed it. It tried so hard to land but that burble was so disconcerting! Finally, after MANY attempts and fly-bys it made it. A bath was accomplished. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos!

Fun photos of your little woodpecker ... who cares if they are a bit blurry!

KGMom said...

Awww--even mama birds have to push baby birds to be on their own.
Hmmmm--once again a life lesson from nature.

TSannie said...

Wonderful photos! I too have to take pictures through a window of your feeders. Today I took a series of pictures that I hope are postable (haven't looked yet) of a red-bellied woodpecker coming to the peanut feeder and then flying back to feed his/her baby. It was the very first time I've ever seen that and it was wonderful!

So glad you shared!

Jayne said...

Oh these are great regardless of the technical quality Carolyn! What a wonderful sight to see that baby fend for himself for the first time. A rare gift to see. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Sherri said...

Carolyn, Thanks for sharing your pictures! I also live in NC! I live in Charlotte, but I'm originally from Northwestern NJ (the mountains and farmland). Stop by my Blog sometime: www.sherrisreadingjubilee.blogspot.com. I'd love to hear from you!

Bird Girl said...

Now that was the cutest story - everyone should have a 'launching' tree for the baby woodpeckers. I will wait with baited breath to see the little pileated girl get launched ;-)

Kerri said...

WOW! I am SO happy you posted this! What a fabulous set of shots....and your narrative is FANTASTIC!

Captivating post!

troutbirder said...

It's the moment that counts and you captured it perfectly. Wonderful set!!!

NCmountainwoman said...

Helen - Thanks for being so forgiving of the pictures.

Cicero - I'm glad you didn't mind a little blurry.

Donna - Yes, we have much to learn from them.

tsannie - Thanks for dropping by. I'll be looking forward to seeing your Red-bellied.

Jayne - Thanks.

Sherri - Welcome. Nice to hear from another blogger in NC.

Birdgirl - Thanks. Guess it's pretty sad when we start naming trees as well as birds.

Kerri - Thanks. You are so kind.

Troutbirder - That's what I was hoping everyone would understand. I wanted to share the moment, not win a prize for photography.

Toni said...

Don't ever apologize for pictures that go with a wonderful story. I too am so glad you shared this event. Makes me smile.