Friday, June 29, 2012

The New (Red-Headed) Family Next Door

There has never been any doubt that I live in prime woodpecker habitat. Downy, Hairy, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are daily visitors to my feeders, no matter what the season. I hear the laughing call of the Pileated Woodpecker often, and occasionally catch a fleeting glance of one as it makes its way from woods, over prairie, and into woods again.

On an early May walk, I spied a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers on a dead limb along the ridge above my valley property. It has been a few years, and I was happy to see them, knowing their numbers are improving again. When I saw the striking pair investigating the big oak and walnut trees near my neighbor's house, I made a little private wish that they would find a home just down the hill. I wanted these two as my neighbors.524



As the weeks went on, I would see one or the other Red-headed at my feeders, grabbing peanuts and sunflower seeds, and hammering on the 496suet. Then, it would wing its way back up the hill. When that changed, I'm not sure. But one day, I noticed their departures from the feeder went in a different direction: the trees on the slope to the right of my front door. At a recent gathering in my yard, friends observed regular crossings to a certain dead tree: a haven for woodpeckers for years, evidenced by numerous carved holes.  Of course!  It is a veritable woodpecker B&B.

Finally, yesterday evening I brought out my camera and scope, and discovered my wish had come true. I have red-headed neighbors, and soon I'll see their not quite yet red-headed fledglings.  And that makes me happy.

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.

1 comment:

  1. Lucky little birds to have a neighbor so fine.

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