More Snaglets!

For the past couple of years, we have been so fortunate to observe the fantastic life of two species of birds right from our backyard – Eastern Bluebird and the Downy Woodpecker. 

Now, let us move from the backyard to the front yard to add another species of cavity-nesters, the red-bellied woodpecker. 

While there are two types of cavity-nesting bird species, a primary and a secondary.

The primary cavity-nesting birds will execute their own hole, and secondary cavity-nesting birds will use abandoned holes, places that seem like suitable holes created by nature, artificial holes (birdboxes), or kick others out; like what the Eastern Bluebirds did to the Carolina Chickadee. 

Pileated, Red-headed, and Red-bellied woodpeckers are primary cavity-nesters. They will excavate their nesting cavity and use the same nesting cavity year after year.

Female Red-bellied woodpecker. Notice the red feathers begin at the lower part of the head. Here she is attempting to bring her chicks out of the nest.
Photo by Alice Mary Herden
This is a male Red-bellied woodpecker. Notice how the red feathers will cover the entire top of the woodpecker’s head. Photo by Alice Mary Herden
Female Red-bellied coaxing her chicks to fledge out of the nest with food. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

Both parents will tend to the chicks. Once it’s time for the chicks to fledge, both parents will also take an active part in that. The parents will use food, like larvae and other insects to entice the chicks out of the nesting cavity. I observed that both the parents would also tease the chicks. With a beak full of food, the parent would let the chick open its mouth but the parent would not release the food. They will do this a couple of times. Sometimes they will let the chicks have the food after a few attempts, other times the parent will move to the side of the nesting cavity or fly to a nearby branch and call.

Female red-bellied feeding her chick. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

Surprisingly I noticed that the parents will also feed their chicks nuts! I wouldn’t have believed it unless I saw it for myself. Along with nuts from the birdseed mix, snails are also on the menu. There is so much to learn about the behaviors of birds.

Yes, that is a camphor tree, a huge one in fact. My husband would normally have the dead branches cut down, but we are extremely grateful we didn’t cut this one. It’s an odd position to have excavated their nesting cavity at the underside of the branch, but if it worked for them and raised a healthy family, then that’s A-OK!

I couldn’t observe the red-bellies as much as I did with the bluebirds and downies, but I know where they are, and I will be ready next season!

Red-bellied Woodpeckers

Be safe in your travels!

1 reply

  1. What a fascinating chronicle of the nesting of a Red-bellied Woodpecker!

    We’ve been lucky to have a pair nest in or near the yard for several years. We know they have young in the nest by their sudden appearance at the seed feeder. Apparently, nuts and seeds offer something for the young birds important to their development.

    Another wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

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