Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bird haven

This little downie woodpecker is one of many that frequent my property and in particular this tree as you can see from the holes in the branch.

These lines of holes go up the trunk as well and are most often made by yellow-bellied sapsuckers - members of the woodpecker family. These visitors show up in spring looking for insects to feast on. 

My usual cadre of woodpeckers includes at least two pairs of hairy woodpeckers, a couple of pairs of downies, a drop-in visit once in a while from a pileated and a flicker and a red-bellied woodpecker family which used to be regular visitors.

However, about the red-bellied - my yellow Lab - Bliss - came to the door a couple of daysbefore Christmas with his mouth full of bird... tail sticking out one side of his mouth. When I opened the front door he dropped the bird which was still alive and spitting mad... Like a dodo I picked up the bird rather than grabbing the dog - Spirit was at this point merely an onlooker and head of the cheerleading squad. 

I tried putting the bird on the window ledge to be safe and let it recover. It was having none of that and made a bee line for the base of the tree (one of its branches is in this photo). Bliss being a good retriever, picked the bird up again. I grabbed him this time and told him to leave the bird which was promptly spit back into the snow - still alive... (soft mouths these Labs), red nape sticking up like Woody Woodpecker's from dog slobber - what an indignity!

With the help of my son who was visiting for Christmas, we got the dogs into the house. Twenty minutes later I went out to check on the fallen bird... I got such a scolding... loud and long. This immature male hopped up the tree right to the top and with every hop it told me off with loud chortles, "yorks" and "glutches." Too funny.

The upshot of all of this is to say the redbellied family has been scarce in its visiting hours of late and certainly not when THAT DOG is around!


  1. What a story!
    Your tree would look good in the tree year project! Would you like to join? You're invited!

  2. I just have nothing but wonderful feelings for all woodpeckers! Such a nice story!

  3. Thank you both - and Dreamfalcon I have signed up to receive more about the Tree Year project and will begin... a bit later today - what a wonderful thing to do...

    Bill - you know I hope by now that I so appreciate your comments and your love of the outdoors. Your articles are a joy to read, so your kind words mean a great deal to me.

  4. I would have panicked if I saw the bird in the dogs mouth, you are a cool customer and a savior to that little guy! When I was looking at the photo the bird blended right in with the photo and then he just popped out, great shot!