LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Monday, August 19, 2013

Birds Being Birds

 
 
 
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.


12 comments:

Carolina Linthead said...

So sweet!

Abraham Lincoln said...

I really appreciate seeing these Pileated Woodpeckers. I have only seen one in my area and it flew overhead. One since 1962 when we moved here. I guess it is because I do not have any old, rotten limbed trees on the property. And that is what this one I saw was doing across the street. Pulling grubs out of a rotten limb in a maple tree. Anyway, nice post. Love the banner photo. Makes me jealous to see so much in such a small space.

robin andrea said...

It is really so wonderful that you can watch this unfold. This is such a big transition for that fledgling Pileated Woodpecker.

Rae said...

Human parents should take a few lessons from the birds. No rocket science required - just common sense when it comes to great parenting.

Arkansas Patti said...

Ah yes. With birds and kids it is a great day when they can feed themselves.

The Bug said...

I love watching the parents feeding the babies - although with all the sparrows we have it's hard to keep track!

Ms. A said...

I need to take better lessons from the birds!

Tara Crowley said...

great photos! I remember seeing those when I was visited your fair state. My friend's house is in the woods outside of Chapel Hill and birdwatching is one of their favorite pastimes. It does indeed provide a balm against the world's woes. Thank you for spreading the love.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love how smart the parents are....they must have read this bit of training info on the internet! LOL
Great photos.
XO

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments everyone.

Abraham Lincoln - Thanks for dropping by. You have some great bird photographs on your blog.

Tara - yes, definitely a balm to soothe the soul.

KB Bear said...

Fabulous photos! We see the same patterns in our woodpeckers. The sure sign of fledging here is the screaming of the babies "bring me food, NOW!".

Janet QueenofSeaford said...

Love it.