Friday, July 3, 2015

Red-headed Woodpecker Family

I saw my first Blue Jay Barrens Red-headed Woodpecker about ten years ago.  It was a juvenile that frequented the feeder for about three months in late summer.  Two years ago a single adult began visiting the feeder.  It was joined by another the next spring and the two became regular visitors to the feeder.  A few weeks ago, I noticed both birds making frequent feeder visits and leaving the area with a bill full of feed.  This was a distinct change from their previous habit of taking small amounts of feed to be consumed on the dead apple snag just beside the feeder.  I suspected they were collecting food for some youngsters.  Sometimes they left with a bill full of cracked corn.

Other times they loaded up with sunflower seeds.

A few days ago, some juveniles showed up with the parents.  I can hear them calling from the trees, but I haven’t been able to get an accurate count.

I know there are at least two, because I spotted two on the ground helping themselves to cracked corn.  The young woodpeckers are the birds in the photo that are not the Blue Jay.

The adults are now collecting feed and flying into the nearby trees.  Unfortunately, that hides them from my view.

This adult sometimes uses the top of an old utility pole as a feeding platform.

The utility pole is the only place I’ve been able to get a glimpse of the young birds being fed.  The parent lays its sunflower seeds on top of the pole and then opens them one at a time for the youngster.

I’ve included a short video of the young woodpecker being fed by its parent.  The start of the film is a bit shaky because I was shooting through a partially opened window and go tangled up in a potted plant on the windowsill.  I was trying to keep the pot from falling to the floor while I centered on my subject.  About seven seconds in to the video, a caterpillar on its silk thread drops into the right side of the frame and quickly swings out of the picture.  The video can also be seen on YouTube by clicking HERE.  A second, slightly longer, video of the same subject may be seen by clicking HERE.


  1. Beautiful photos! Love this bird!