We have a feeder about ten feet from the kitchen window which offers me a great – pardon the pun – bird’s eye view of my backyard visitors. One of the most beautiful birds that graces my yard is the downy woodpecker with a whiter-than-white breast, jet black wings and tail, and a spot of scarlet red on its head.
I don’t know where the little fellows nest, but they did successfully and have been actively feeding their youngster from my sunflower heart feeder and the suet feeder.
The diminutive birds are the most likely of all the woodpecker species to visit a feeder. They are not particularly concerned about my presence and will continue pecking away at a suet bar as I walk within a few feet.
I found a hanging peanut bar that they dearly love, but so do the infernal starlings and grackles, who make short work of the $3 treat. But the Downy’s find a way to squeeze into the suet cage, get a beak full of goodies and fly to a nearby tree to feed the young one – I think they only had one this time, but I have seen them with as many as three chicks in the past.
Here are some interesting facts about the smallest of our woodpeckers.
- The Downy Woodpecker eats foods that larger woodpeckers cannot reach, such as insects living on or in the stems of weeds. You may see them hammering at goldenrod galls to extract the fly larvae inside.
- Like all woodpeckers, they have a long, barbed tongues to help pull insects from small places.
- Also, woodpeckers don’t really sing songs, but they drum loudly against pieces of wood or metal to achieve the same effect. People sometimes think this drumming is part of the birds’ feeding habits, but it isn’t. In fact, feeding birds make surprisingly little noise even when they’re digging vigorously into wood.
- Downy’s often find intriguing places to nest, and have even been discovered nesting inside the walls of buildings.
Perhaps my pair of little woodpeckers will nest once more this summer – but hopefully not within the walls of my house.