Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Nested Question

First day out birding last week after I finally found my Canon battery charger (which at least partially explains the lack of new pictures for the past couple of weeks), I came across this busy little fellow at my favorite near-the-office neighborhood park.

click image to enlarge
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)


He stayed in one tight little area the entire time I watched, and with the abundance of waving branches and leaves between us I had a hard time getting any decent shots of him. It wasn't until I got the pictures downloaded to my computer that I saw the hole that was keeping him so busy.

click image to enlarge
In one (rather blurry) shot, it looks like his entire head and upper body are plunged inside this cavity.

So as I'm still pretty new to all this, I don't feel too stupid asking the question. Is this a nest under construction, or is this guy just really getting ambitious in grub-hunting? Is there an easy way to tell?


For some great bird photos from around the world, check out Bird Photography Weekly #20.

Bird Photography Weekly

13 comments:

Christopher said...

Hi Kyle,
Definitely not feeding - those would be a lot smaller. (and not almost perfectly round the way the one in the photo is) Chiseling out a hole that size, he is definitely excavating a cavity - and most likely a nest cavity given the time of the year. Most woodpeckers usually excavate a new nest cavity each year, using older ones for roosting. If he is relatively new to the territory (maybe only a year or so) he could be excavating a new cavity if his old favorite was not available any longer (snags break, or holes can be taken over by other birds or animals)

mick said...

Very interesting bird observations and nice photos. I find I always have more questions than answers after watching birds.

Arija said...

What a bit of luck for you! Nw you will be able to observe his mating habits if it is to be a nest.

SusanLM4 said...

Terrific photos! I especialy like the photo with the cavity in the tree because one gets to see those precious little toes of the Woodpecker, which are otherwise usually hidden. Great shot! Keep them coming, especially if he makes this his home and you can watch the young ones coming of age.

dAwN said...

Love the photos...

behindthebins said...

Terrific shots of bird behavior. I just adore Downy Woodpeckers. I don't think I have ever seen one excavating a new nest hole. I did see a Chickadee doing it once though. That was cool.

KatDoc said...

What Christopher said - he's excavating a cavity, probably for nesting. Hooray for woodpeckers! Because they dig a new nest hole every year, other cavity-nesting species get to re-use their old homes. Chickadees, bluebirds, wrens - all these and more need a cavity to nest in, but can't dig their own place.

Keep watching this spot - you should be able to get great photos of breeding behavior.

~Kathi

animtreebird said...

Very beautiful bird. Nice photos. :)))

Mary C said...

Kyle, that's a great find. I love downy woodpeckers. And it's wonderful that you will get to observe his behavior, and hopefully not just his behavior. ;o)

Red said...

Great questions... I don't have any answers, but it looks like Christopher above has them :) That's awesome to catch it making a nest!

2sweetnsaxy said...

Great shots. I like that you were able to see and capture the hole it was making. I'm also glad you asked that question so that I too could read the answers.
:-)

Larry Jordan said...

Hi Kyle, how lucky you are! I am always on the lookout for nesting birds. I am hoping to observe a pair of Acorn Woodpeckers nesting this year, along with my regular cavity nesters.

Woodpeckers are some of my favorite birds and I'm always glad to see them around my house. You got some great looks at the Downy. Well done!

Tom said...

nice catch, hopefully you`ll be able to follow it up as it nests.