Knock Wood

In a quiet part of an afternoon, I watched a male Downy WoodpeckerDryobates pubescens, as he rested in foliage shade.

I thought he might be waiting for the right time to pop down to the peanut feeder, which hangs just below where he perched.   But he didn’t want peanuts, he seemed content to sit, and like me, watch.

Until this past spring, I enjoyed only fleeting glimpses of downies in my garden.  Typically they’ve visited during winter months, in bare trees, and as pairs.  Always they were up high in those trees and constantly in motion, brief black and white visages until gone from my sight.  In April (or so) I placed a peanut feeder in the garden and since then, the downies are regular visitors, though summer saw a downturn in downy activity.

Mr Downy’s red cap is a head turner that will surely attract a mate, if it hasn’t already.

I wonder if this is Daddy Downy who visited regularly last spring with his mate and offspring? Or perhaps this is the offspring?  Though I originally thought baby downy was female, I could be wrong.  Downies know better about these things than birding gardeners.

Birds are less active in my garden during the summer months.  The resident birds are around, feeding, bathing, and harassing one another, but mostly done with chick-rearing and not yet interested in mate-finding. The migratory birds are long gone north for nesting adventures.  Hummers hunt nectar from the plants and disappear in flashes.

I’m tickled that a new birding season has already begun.  Migrating birds from breeding grounds in far North America are appearing in my garden as they make their way to wintering homes in Mexico, and Central and South America.  The resident birds and winter visitors will settle in for the next breeding season, preening new plumage and pairing for new progeny.  With good luck–and plenty of peanuts, black-oiled sunflowers, and food from native plants–this backyard birder will relish the autumn, winter, and spring bird bonanza.

13 thoughts on “Knock Wood

  1. I am surprised to see a Downy sit still, as I’ve only seen them on the move. I find my usual birds like Cardinals, disappear in the Fall. I think there is something better to eat in the woods. I have had some Hummers arrive. I saw one sitting on the ground and couldn’t figure out what it was doing. It actually had another Hummer pinned to the ground and was beating the heck out of it. I broke up the fight.

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  2. That is the cutest bird. I do enjoy woodpeckers, and I have the impression more people are leaving old trees up for them, even if some branches have been lopped off. I just read this afternoon that there are pileated woodpeckers in the Big Thicket — that would be something to see! But I’d be happy to see one like your little guy, too. Lucky you, to have a place where you can enjoy them at your leisure!

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    • I know, he’s such a little charmer. I agree about folks leaving dead trees; I think there are more woodpeckers around my neighborhood than there used to be and that’s one of the reasons.

      I’d love to see a pileated woodpecker. In my ‘hood, there are downies, red-bellied, and a neighbor once sent to me a picture of a red-headed, though I’ve never seen one here.

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