Tuesday, March 25, 2008
downy nest II
The activity at the downy woodpecker nest excavation site has continued. (See March 21 posting) For the past two days, a female downy has taken turns with the male to work on increasing the depth of the cavity. It’s slow work; they remove wood bits, one bill full at a time and unlike other woodpeckers, downies have rather small bills. (Most woodpecker species have prodigious bills, that’s what puts the peck, peck, peck, in woodpecker.)
But the action doesn’t stop there. In real estate, a good location is hard to find. Ever so often, both downies disappear, perhaps they are working on a second, back-up nest hole elsewhere. When they are gone, a pair of Carolina chickadees slip in to work on the hole for themselves. They also carry out bits of wood in their bills, and chickadees have even smaller bills. The chickadee will hop to a nearby branch, shake its head and sawdust will fly out. The tediousness of this work is worth noting; mind-boggling tediousness!
When one of the downies returns, the chickadees are chased away. This HAS gotten interesting.