The Snag

A long time ago, the oak tree in our backyard was dying of an unknown disease. I talked my husband into not cutting it down because it would make an excellent perching snag for birds.

During the Great Backyard Bird Count in February, I was committed to participating, so much that I bought a couple of new bird feeders and splurged on nut and berry birdseed. To tell you the truth, my husband and I really enjoyed it.


While filling the birdseed one day, I noticed something different about that snag. (It’s literally in your backyard. How can you miss it? Hey, it happens.) Besides all the fungi making their appearance, I observed a hole. Thinking woodpeckers are the only species of birds that excavate their nest in trees, dead or alive. I thought it was cool that a woodpecker may live there. However, many other bird species utilize abandoned cavities.

For those that didn’t know that, you are not alone! ;0) Honestly, I thought all birds, except for woodpeckers, build their nest on branches until that day I noticed a pair of Carolina Chickadees taking residence in that abandoned cavity, the one on the top.

Yesterday, when washing my hands, I looked out the kitchen window and noticed another bird on the same snag and disappeared into a hole. What? What bird was that? It looked like a….? I knew the Carolina Chickadees were there, but this is a different hole and a different bird!

To our surprise, we have a pair of Downy Woodpeckers taking up residence in the same snag.

If you can keep a snag or two on your property; you can support wildlife and create an excellent habitat for many wildlife species.

What a great adventure ahead for my husband and me. I would consider this an honor to see two species of birds create their family in our backyard.

Stay safe in your travels!

Links for further reading:

Downy Woodpecker | Audubon Field Guide

Downy Woodpecker Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

How to Tell a Hairy Woodpecker From a Downy Woodpecker | Audubon

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