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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hairy Woodpecker, Juvenile

This Hairy Woodpecker, a juvenile, frequents the sunflower seed feeder outside our kitchen window.  When we had "street improvements" a couple of years ago, the excavations set two maples into the process of decay and dying at the top of our driveway.  There the woodpecker lives. 

I am fascinated by woodpeckers though I don't like their hole making in healthy trees.  Most woodpeckers have very long tongues (sometimes as long as four times the length of their bill). These long tongues are stored like a tape measure in twin structures that wrap around the inside perimeter of the skull.  The tip of the tongue is sticky and barbed to help them forage for insects.

This woodpecker is male.  He has a small red patch on the back of his head.  Females have no red patch.

Earlier this year, an adult Hairy Woodpeckers tapped on the metal pole on which hangs the feeder...for days.  I assume whichever male makes the loudest noise gets the female.  Since there are now juvenile woodpeckers at our feeders, he must have been successful.


shoreacres said...

Do you suppose his poor bill lost its sharpness, pounding on that metal pole? Or maybe he actually sharpened it. In any case, they're wonderful birds. I don't see many around here, but once there was one that decided he was going to take on a wooden mast down at the marina. Oh, my! Wasn't there a great kerfluffle about that - bird lovers vs boat lovers. Eventually they caged the mast for a while with something like chicken wire, and he gave up and went elsewhere.

Margie said...

He's really quite beautiful!
Great shot, Carol.
Have not seen any woodpeckers around here.

Carol Steel said...

Hello shoreacres,
I think the bills are quite sturdy so no damage to that. I can relate to your woodpecker story. A few years ago, a woodpecker set up shop on one of our then healthy maples. We couldn't get him to leave it alone and the resulting hole made it weaker and the tree split in two during a winter storm. The remaining half seems Ok after my husband filled the hole with cement. I was unhappy about the loss. Perhaps chicken wire would have helped there too.

Carol Steel said...

Thanks Margie. The woodpeckers are good and bad depending upon where they are excavating.

Jane Tims said...

Hi Carol. There is a woodpecker who stops to pound on the side of our house occasionally. I hope it doesn't mean we have insects under our shingles!!! Jane