As my wife was taking some garden waste to the compost bins she heard the insistent, high-pitch whine of nestlings. She couldn't pinpoint the noise but it seemed to be coming from a neighbor's tree just across the property line. So a little while later when I walked by she took me back there to hear them. We scanned the trees with our binoculars and found a likely branch full of five different holes. Then in came an adult Downy Woodpecker and stuck its head into one of the holes. The kids went wild. The father soon followed, waiting his turn to feed a morsel to the kids.
|Pair of Downy Woodpeckers returning with food for their young.|
The adults flew off and we waited. Several minutes passed before we decided we needed to return to our garden work. Surely the babies would be there for a while. Later in the afternoon I returned with camera in tow to capture the excitement. I didn't have to wait long until momma bird returned with an insect in hand, or bill I should say. Again, dad was right behind her. The first would fly in to the broken off tip of the branch and then work their way down to the nest hole. As soon as they departed from the tip, the other would land. The second adult would move part was down the branch before pausing while the first adult feed the children. As soon as the food was gone the first adult would leave and be replaced by the second. The nestling's whining never stopped.
After a few more visits, the male slipped into the hole after feeding the kids. He stayed inside for a minute or two before departing with a fecal sack that he dropped in the yard (yuck!). About half an hour later the male again slipped into the nest hole. this time he was inside for several minutes. The female returned twice with food. I guess it had become so crowded that the baby had to stick its head part way out to get the food.
|Young Downy Woodpecker reaching out for food.|
Be sure to visit Tuesday's Tweets and Wild Bird Wednesday for more fabulous bird stories and pictures.