Good morning everyone and Happy Monday! Also, for those of us in certain parts of this big country of ours, “Happy Family Day”!! This is a real holiday here, but not in all provinces, however, most of the country calls it Family Day. Other provinces have the holiday but a different name for it. It’s another cold day, with that temp down at -31F (-35C) and with the windchill factored in that makes the temp -49F (-45C). Cold again tonight and then it begins warming up a bit.
So, grab yourself a coffee to warm up and relax for a few minutes while we look at another little bird this morning, the downy woodpecker. I checked and couldn’t find a woodpecker appreciation day, so I decided to make one, today. We’ll call it International Woodpecker Appreciation Day! So many people think that woodpeckers are harmful birds that kill trees, which is totally false. In fact, woodpecker’s help trees by eliminating the insects in the tree, and it’s those insects that kill trees. The downy woodpecker is the smallest in North America, just 5 to 6 inches (12 to 15cm) long from tip of the bill to tip of the tail.
They have a very short bill so generally look for insects under the bark of trees. They are very beneficial in orchards where nesting boxes (bird houses) are often put up to attract them. They are also a major feeder of the elm bark beetle and other bark beetles. They will do a thorough job of ridding trees of tiny scale insects. The live all over Canada and most of the US as well. They are the most common woodpecker in eastern N.A. They get along well with people and live in towns and cities, in parks and neighborhoods where there are lots of trees. They are easily attracted to feeders, especially for suet, but will also eat sunflower seeds and peanuts.
In winter they spend all their daylight hours looking for food. The male excavated their nesting cavity, usually in a dead tree or tree branch (plus they are easily attracted to nesting boxes). Once he’s near completion the female joins in for doing the finishing touches. They always sleep in different hole cavities. The female lays 4 to 7 eggs and both sexes take turns incubating the eggs in shifts of 15 to 30 minutes. At night it’s always the male that stays on the eggs. By the time the young are about 17 days old they are almost fully grown and the parents are bringing them large meals every 3 minutes. After 3 or 4 weeks the young can fully look after themselves. So much more could be said about these fascinating little birds, but I’ll stop before this gets too long. I hope you all have a wonderful day and God bless!
Steve and Muffin.
©2021 Steve McLeod.