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.

Daddy Downy

Here’s a handsome Downy WoodpeckerDryobates pubescens, enjoying a peanut meal at a feeder in my back garden.  Downy Woodpecker dads are wings-on dads, teaching their offspring the woodpecker skills required for living in trees and finding food.

His offspring, this fledgling Downy practices her tree climbing maneuvers.   Hang on, little Downy!  I think this fledging is a female as she has no suggestion of red at the top of her darling head.

Her tree climbing landed the young one at the top of the limb, ready to survey the landscape and take in some lessons from Dad.

Dad is nearby, ready to teach,

…and deliver a snack.

 

Fledgling Downy has learned well.  I now see her almost daily, high up in the foliage or at the feeder, nibbling peanuts–just like her dad.  Baby had a good teacher and an excellent dad.

Daddy Downy–the best dad any woodpecker could chirp for.  Happy Father’s Day to all great dads who love and take care of their babies!