Monday, June 20, 2011

A Really Big Baby Bird

For more than a week now, we have known that one of our Pileated Woodpecker pairs has a fledgling.  The pattern repeats itself every year.  The parent will come to the suet feeder, grab a beakful of food and fly into the trees.  At first, the parent leaves the baby deeper in the woods.  Eventually, they bring the fledgling to a tree near the suet.  They will feed it there for several days and then the little one is on its own.

We call this the "launching tree."  All of our woodpeckers bring their young ones here in the last step before they have to find their own food.

And here is the baby!  She is a really big baby and actually seems larger than the parent.  Guess it's all that baby fat.

She pokes at the tree while she waits.  Good start.

Mom comes back with food, taking great care to position herself in a way that prohibits my getting a good photograph.  Much to my frustration, they sometimes move completely behind the tree.

You have to take my word for it.  Mom is feeding the big baby.

Compare the sizes.  Mom is on the right.

Once again, the mom is feeding the little one.  Trust me.

Both birds rest after the third feeding.  Baby is hard to see below the mom and moving to the other side of the tree.

Within a few days, the baby will feed herself.  We will watch like anxious parents ourselves as she makes her first attempts to get to the suet feeder.  She will be amazed the first time Mom leaves her on the launching tree and flies right past her without giving her anything to eat.  She will watch and finally decide to try it solo.  We watch anxiously until she finally makes it over to get some food.  The mother must be watching as well, because if the baby doesn't make any attempt to feed herself, then Mom will come back and give her a bite, hoping that the next time will be more successful.

Here's hoping I am on the deck with my camera.


Elora said...

Fabulous post, NCMW!!!!! Loved both pix and words! Lucky you to have them!! We have an illusive pair. Never seen the baby, but the beat goes on!

Thanks much!

Berts Blog said...

Wow, I love the pictures and I love it when you teach me about waht I am seeing.

I like birds. I like watching them up in the sky or in the trees.

I love hearing them sing.

I am a good dog. I don't eat them or chase them. (Thats what My Vickie says)

Actually, I am too tired to chase them so I just enjoy them.


LoieJ said...

I hadn't thought about putting out suet in the summer. I've had some problems with a cage type suet feeder "disappearing" from the actions of other animals. How you you put your suet out? When we had a large trees cut so that they were no longer threatening to fall onto my bedroom, the tree cutter suggested leaving one VERY tall stump (25' tall) so that it could be for nests. Sure enough, a pileated woodpecker nested there, right in front of my house. I'm not sure where they are this year.

Rudee said...

You really do get some remarkable photos. I've no doubt she's feeding her fledgeling. We have a woodpecker in the chestnut tree next door. For the live of me, I can't see the bird, but I can hear it pecking away at the tree.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

The Pileated Woodpeckers are among my favories, I really enjoy seeing them too!! Your pictures are great and I love the 'messiness' of the cap of the fledgling, I envy your being able to see and enjoy the circle of life!

PS: Many many thanks for your comforting words on the loss of Hamlet. Your friendship, kindness and generosity continues to touch my heart, and I'll always be grateful for that.

Ms. A said...

How exciting! I need your camera and your subject matter. Not much to capture, here, without driving. *sigh

Anonymous said...

You are so LUCKY! What a great series of photos. We have a pair of Pileated that come to our trees and peck away, but have never seen any offspring. What an adorable little fledgling.

abb said...

What wonderful photos! THANK you for sharing!

Word verification: pelyed. The peyled woodpecker baby was really big. Appropriate!

kks said...

Beautiful series of the little one! They must be camera shy!

Cicero Sings said...

Neat to read about the training process and how you've been able to witness many times!

Berts Blog said...

OH Mountain Musings person.

Thank you Thank you Thank you.
I think your note to My Vickie may have just done the trick.

Yahoo, I think we are going to the mountains tomorrow.

Love ya sooooo much for your help


Kirsty Girl said...

Wow amazing! I live in Australia so have never seen a woodpecker! Gorgeous pics.

Jayne said...

What a gift Carolyn! I'd dearly love to see that in my backyard! Thanks for sharing this "baby" with us!

Busy Bee Suz said...

What a wonderful capture!!!! Boy, the baby really is BIG! Perhaps a future football player? NO?
I hope you get to see some more babies when this one goes off....

100 Thoughts of Love said...

its hard to judge how big they are, aren't they quite large?

Taradharma said...

That IS a big baby bird! What wonderful photographs of mom and babe. Hope you're out on the deck for more, as well. Very cool.

Vicki Lane said...

A wonderful set of pictures!

Ginnie said...

I am green with envy. I have an old dead tree (very tall of the pine variety) next to my house and if I am very lucky I will spy a Pileated woodpecker maybe once in two or three years.
To be able to see and photograph the mother/baby event is awesome. I love the pictures....THANKS.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Bert - Our dogs don't chase birds either. But Lucy is fascinated by the crows and given a chance she just might chase them. Good luck on your camping trip.

PS - We have a double-sized suet cage hanging on a pole over our deck. We bring it (and all our feeders) into the garage every evening.

Kim - You are always much in my mind with your recent losses.

The Pileated Woodpeckers are big birds, some of them twenty inches long. When they emerge from the nest the fledglings are almost as big as the adults.