Sunday, May 31, 2009

A family of Downy Woodpeckers out and about on the trail...(BPW #40)

What a sweet sight--about ten feet off the trail, a female Downy Woodpecker was foraging on a tree trunk when out of nowhere her sweetheart flew in with a bill full of caterpillars and gently fed them to her. At least that’s what I thought was going on at first... 


Then the male flew off quickly, and very efficiently nabbed another insect only to deliver it to another girlfriend? “How did she get all the way over here…” was the thought going through my mind as the male darted off in another direction and delivered food to yet another woodpecker. “Duh!” registered almost immediately…"these are babies and the male is the papa!" And did he ever work hard. I spent the next 30 minutes watching the male fly nonstop from baby to baby with bites to eat. I think there were four babies. That’s all I could keep track of because they were not sitting still on the trunks. They were also flying from tree to tree, so not only did the papa have to find the prey for his offspring, he then had to find his offspring to feed them. It was truly amazing to watch and listen to him and the babies.





Although not a great photo, it shows the frantic 
pace of the departing papa who was trying 
to keep up with his babies’ appetites!

As soon as i realized these were babies, it was so obvious. They were making soft baby sounds calling to their papa. They were also very gentle and hesitant as they probed the bark and pecked a little here and there into the tree trunks.

Baby learning how to forage and dig 
out insects in soft, decaying bark.

Baby Downy with a speckled breast. Just look 
at that baby Downy's head...so cute!

…and Papa Downy wasn't the only father busy in the deep wood. Papa Red was working very hard to teach his two children (one of which who looked nothing at all like him but very much like a fluffy little Cowbird) learn to forage. Papa Cardinal kept the two babies low on the hill buried deep in the undergrowth, safely out of the camera lens’ reach!


I'm finally starting to get over this cold/sinus infection. The antibiotics I got on Friday are working and my energy is returning. I've been writing almost daily about the birds, and taking a few days off to rest seemed very weird. 

45 comments:

Shellmo said...

Glad to hear you're feeling better! Love the photos of that overworked papa Downy! Where was mama? LOL!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Glad you are feeling better, Kelly. This time of year is hard --when you get sick. Take Care...

Love your Downy's. I had a little one at my suet feeder this past week. TOO CUTE!!!!

Hugs,
Betsy

E said...

Sorry you were so sick, Kelly, glad all is better now. Lovely pics, incredible birds. Hugs

Kelly said...

Shelley...I was wondering the same thing. Mama must have been taking a well-deserved nap!

Betsy...thank you. Being sick when it's nice out is no fun. The Starlings are just going crazy in our backyard and wipe out the suet within half a day. I should try again.

Enita...thank you! I'm such a baby when I'm sick. I hate it! Hugs to you too. :-)

iva yaneva said...

aw, how pretty! :) glad to hear you feel better!

NatureStop said...

Kely,sorry to learn that you were not well.Glad that you have recovered.You have really captured Papa Downy working so hard to feed the babies beautifully.

Kelly said...

...thank you Ivay and Nature Stop!

Midmarsh John said...

What a fantastic time you had. You had me on the edge of my seat reading your lovely account of Pappa Downy feeding his youngsters.
Here in Lincolnshire, UK I am inundated with Starlings and their young gobbling everything they can from the feeders and the noise is overwhelming. Not as pretty to watch as the Downy!

holdingmoments said...

Wonderful observations of the Woodpeckers Kelly, and pictures too. All the birds have their work cut out raising young this time of year don't they; but fascinating to be able to watch.
That Cardinal is a stunning colour.

Jayne said...

So sweet! I love seeing them trying to feed the entire brood when they are spread out a bit. Such love and dedication. Glad you are feeling better Kelly. :c)

yen said...

interesting catch and by far the best way to observe bird in the wild.
Great post.

Kelly said...

John...we also have the Starling invasions at our feeders. They are very noisy and bossy too!

Keith...you are so right. They are all working very hard. The first couple of days when the babies venture out like this must be very hard on the parents. They really have to double their fly time...

Jayne...thank you! I hope I can find the Pileated Woodpeckers doing the same thing. That would be a sight! (but I doubt we will be that lucky)

Yen....so true. The papa didn't care I was standing there watching him. He was too busy feeding the babies to be nervous.

Tutta la Storia said...

It takes time to heal--let your body rest. Great post! I can't wait for my husband to read it!

Laure Ferlita said...

So glad to hear that you're feeling better! Love the downy babies too. So, so sweet!

And just because you're feeling better doesn't mean you're well yet - pace yourself!

Abe Lincoln said...

Thanks for all of your visits to my birds blog.

I really admire your persistence on the trail and am envious of your fabulous bird photos.

gwendolen said...

I'd love to see the little woodpeckers 'hammering' into the tree. Must be so much fun to watch. :)

ShySongbird said...

What a really lovely sequence of beautiful photos Kelly!

All the parent birds are working so hard at the moment! My suet feeders are being emptied in a few hours, mainly by Starlings!

I do hope your health continues to improve.

Montanagirl said...

Glad you're feeling better! a Z-Pak can do wonders. Your photos are just amazing. And your narrative is always so "GOOD". Love your blog.

NCmountainwoman said...

Wonderful photographs of the Downys. They have evaded my camera for days...always feeding on the opposite side of the tree.

Glad you're on the mend.

Steve B said...

Cool! Thanks for chasing these around for us. What a treat.

Appalachian Lady said...

Great photos of the downy woodpecker. I enjoyed reading about the papa and his relentless drive to feed his young. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Ginnymo said...

Those photos are adorable Kelly!! So neat to see the Downy's and a baby!!
Hope you get some photos of the baby cardinals too! I got some last year but I don't see a one this year. I think one of the female Cardinals was almost snatched by a hawk by the looks of her head feathers. I'll be posting that today. Glad you are feeling better.

Warren Baker said...

nice montage of photo's Kelly. Smart little woodpecker!

BirdingMaine said...

Awesome series Kelly! I can't wait until the parents bring the little Downies to our suet feeders. It's always a joy to watch.

dAwN said...

So Glad you are feeling better!
How fun it must have been to watch that whole scene..it was a pleasure to look at the photos!

Kelly,
I want to subscribe to your blog via email so that I will not miss a post..I use google feedburner so others can do that on my blog..
but I couldnt find anything on yours..unless i am missing it somehow..
I really dont like to use google reader...so I started and email acct just for the blogs i read.
let me know if You add the email link..
thanks
dawn

mick said...

How nice that you were able to watch all that! Such cute babies and lovely photos!

Little Brown Job said...

Lovely shots Kelly, especially that one of the youngster being fed.

Atanasio Fernández García said...

Hi Kelly, a very interesting story and very well documented with your great pictures! There is great merit of the work the adults are constantly looking for food for their young .... but should not be less difficult to find each of them in the woods. Congratulations on your ability to observe the birds! Greetings from Spain!

Neil said...

Great photos of the family at feeding time.

Dave Lewis said...

Wow, what a great series of shots. I'll have to go back this weekend to see if Robert Downy has any kids!

Heather said...

I'm glad to hear you're feeling better, Kelly. Something's definitely going around - I'm still working on something, Dave's feeling crappy, Dave's sister and her hubby (who live in Cincy) have been dealing with it, too. Makes me wonder if swine flu has mutated?

Anyway, love your baby Downy pics. Our first babies started showing up at the suet feeders last week (ours were Hairys, though). I love the little fluff heads on them!

Missed you at the Wilds! I met a lady who lives in Mason and she was talking about VOA Park and how great the birding is there!

Tammie Lee said...

So glad to hear you are feeling better. Your bird images and tales are wonderful. Thank you.

Nature As Is said...

Kelly first sorry to hear that you were under the weather...but very glad to see your on the mend. Loved your shots of that poor busy Papa but he was doing a fantastic job...Simply put lovely

Crista

Larry said...

Total cutie pies Kelly! I love this time of year when we get to see all the nesting and chick rearing activities. My favorite kind of birding!

Cathy B. said...

Sorry you were so sick, Kelly, glad you are feeling better, Kelly. Wonderful observations. It'a a pleasure to see these Woodpeckers. Great pictures :-)

Laubaine said...

superbes images kelly

Roy said...

A man's work is never done Kelly.

Jenny said...

Great to photograph the Downy parent feeding a young one Kelly. I hope your cold/infection is pretty much over by now! Take care
Jen

The Early Birder said...

Hi Kelly. Good to hear your on the recovery trail. Watching such frantic feeding activity is always facinating and rewarding. I waited 20 minutes for just one glimpse of a woody entering a nest to feed youngsters! Lol FAB.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! Yeah! I'm starting to feel well again. I'm not so tired tonight so I'll be able to get out and read some more blogs.

Dawn....I need to figure out how to let people sign up for email notification. I think FeedBurner or something like that works. I'm going to go out right now to see what I can find. Thank you for bringing that to my attention (I kept forgetting about it!)

Tim Rucci said...

What a treat it must have been to see both woodpeckers. The first time I saw a pileated woodpecker up close, a 2nd one showed up a minute or two later and I watched them both for quite a while. You are fortunate to be near trails where you are able to see so many different birds.

Tabib said...

I love that feeding pictures.

Vickie said...

Sweet, sweet interactions and images!

Mary said...

Little downys are so cute. I've got several coming to my feeders now and I just never get tired of them. They are so tentative as they learn to feed themselves.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Wonderful sequence of the babies--
I have a love of woodpeckers--and the young ones certainly are adorable!