Friday, March 21, 2008
It’s difficult for me to imagine digging a hole in the side of a tree with my mouth. I have enough trouble dissecting an ear of corn, but to drill a perfectly round hole just big enough to slip my entire body into, that’s a remarkable feat.
A male downy woodpecker spent several hours today working on a nest hole very close to my suet feeder. He’s setting up a territory; and after the excavation of the nest cavity, he’ll attempt to attract the attention of a female. He’ll drum, call, fluff up his feathers, that sort of thing; strut his stuff. You know how guys are. If a female notices the suet feeder, she may realize he has also chosen an excellent piece of real estate.
It’s hard to determine if this is a first-time nester or an older bird. This early in the season is an indication that it’s an older male. (Older downies nest earlier.) If it is an older male, he will more than likely renew his pair-bond with last year’s mate, providing she survived the winter. They have a shared history, a familiarity that will prove beneficial in raising a family. It's a long process that requires teamwork, at least with downies. (Female hummingbirds raise their broods alone.)
If the male downy attracts a mate, this could get interesting.