Monday, June 14, 2010

Food for the Red-bellied Baby

The advantages of living in the forest are far too numerous to list. Surely one of the biggest is being able to watch the birds go about their normal activities.

We have four pairs of resident woodpeckers; Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, and Pileated. As might be expected, they pretty much fledge sequentially based on their sizes. We had seen the Downy Woodpecker fledglings and looked forward to the Hairy Woodpeckers. The Hairys came to the suet in a frenzy and suddenly stopped coming. We have no idea what might have happened but apparently their nest was destroyed and they moved elsewhere. What a shame.

Right on time came the Red-bellied fledgling. For a frustrating week we saw only glimpses of the baby since the parents were feeding it deep in the woods. Gradually they began to bring the fledgling closer to the suet feeder and we were delighted to watch.

First the parent(s) bring the fledgling to a tree near the feeder. This is used so often by the woodpeckers that we have taken to calling it the "launching tree." From this tree they are fed and from this tree they make their first attempts to fly to the suet all by themselves.

Now don't you move from there. I'll get some food and be right back.

You can count on me!

Hmm...wonder if there's anything here I might try.

Never mind. Here's comes my fast-food breakfast.

The fledgling gets a tasty morsel of suet. It seems that early in the feeding process the parent feeds from above and as the fledgling gets older the parent feeds from below. Perhaps this is in preparation to teaching the little one how to eat for himself.

Is that all? Please can I have some more?
[Note that the fledgling has only a very subtle hint of red. This makes the bird blend into the tree and is fairly well hidden even in full view.]

The food is delivered quickly to feed the impatient fledgling.

These birds do not really need our suet. There is plenty of food available to them. But when I think of the long incubation phase, I am thankful I can provide a quick and nourishing bite of food for the hard-working parents. And yeah, I admit it. I do so love to watch the activity from my deck. Somehow it gives me a little faith that all might be well in this troubled world.


Barb said...

Hi Carolyn,
I'm grateful to watch the birds in your forest while it's snowing in mine! I am always amazed at how big the fledglings are. Those parents must be working hard.

Barbie ♥ said...

FANTASTIC, Carolyn!! I loved seeing this young red-belly and parent eating your suet! You got a great shot of that 'red-belly' on the adult that is often so hard to see - bravo!!!

Karin said...

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing the story and photos! Nice to have a front row seat!

Anonymous said...

I love them! We are amazed at how fast our suet disappears. We love watching birds, but are horrible at ID-ing them, so we love that flash of red. (Thank you, Woody Woodpecker. :) )

Victoria said...

Carolyn, those are great photos! Watching the birds that live in the forest where I live gives me the same feeling as you get; a litle bit of faith that things might turn out ok for this world.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Amen, Carolyn... For this entire month of knee pain that I've gone through, the one thing I have totally enjoyed is seeing our birds come to the feeders...

We have alot of woodpeckers also: Downys, Red-bellied, Red-headed, Pileated --and on occasion a Northern Flicker. We have alot of Red-bellied ---and I took a picture of a fledgling today... We also have lots of Downys--including some little ones. There's only one Red-headed so far and one Pileated...

Great pictures, Carolyn.

Vicki Lane said...

Such a wonderful sequence of pictures, Carolyn!

robin andrea said...

It is a joy to be able to watch them, and they are such a beautiful balance to these crazy times. Love that camouflage pic, amazing how that little one does blend right in. Wonderful.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments.

Barb - They do indeed work very hard, especially in this unseasonably hot weather we are having.

Unknown said...

I saw all birds picture. I love birds. Here in these picture many types of birds. I like visiting in forest. This is an interesting topic. When I saw this pictures, then i was be happy.

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Twisted Fencepost said...

I like to watch nature in action, too.
And you are right. Things are normal in the world of nature even when the human side of things are in total chaos.