We are by no measure experts on birds or bird life. But we do have lots of opportunities to observe them in nature. We have three pairs of Pileated Woodpeckers who come to our feeders with their young. One pair has two fledglings in this brood; the other two pairs had only a single one. Both parents assist in feeding.
This is not scientific, but we have noticed a pattern in their approach to feeding. Our first indication that the birds have hatched are the parents; filling their beaks with suet and flying off quickly in the same direction each time. Later, we see the parent and fledgling deep in the woods. As time progresses, the woodpeckers bring the fledglings closer and closer to the house.
At first, the parent seems always to feed the little bird from above, dropping the food into its mouth. As the little one grows, the parent feeds the bird in a more parallel position. Finally, the parent feeds from below the bird, forcing the little one to mimic eating on its own.
Parent on the left, little girl on the right
The parent makes three trips to the suet.
Our most amusing observations are when the parent comes to the suet and flies past the little bird waiting on the branch. The little bird invariably sits there in disbelief. When it realizes the parent is not returning to feed it, the bird makes several attempts to get to the feeder. Often the initial attempts are not successful but very soon the little bird is sitting properly on the suet feeder enjoying a meal.
Watching the birds simply being birds helps us forget about the world's problems for a while.