Monday, May 2, 2011

A letter from a Nature Neighbor

Tap...tap...tap…tap tap tap...........tap…tap…tap...tap tap tap. 

Have you heard my drumming song? It echoes through the forest and maybe your backyard. Although it looks like I’m eating the wood, I am probably looking for food for myself and my family. Tasty bugs live underneath the bark of trees—especially dead trees—and I’m making holes to find my next meal. Or I may be excavating a nest hole for my family, drumming my song to attract a mate or announcing to all other birds that this is my territory! I am a superb acrobat and you’ll often see me hanging upside down from branches or suet feeders. I’ve even been seen drinking nectar from hummingbird feeders! If you put out bird feed or suet during the spring and summer, I may bring my youngsters to visit. It’s a great way for me to teach them where to find good food—we especially love suet and sunflower seeds.
I am a downy woodpecker, the smallest woodpecker that lives in this area and also the most common. My black and white feathers help me blend in with my surroundings, but a red patch on the back of my head tells you that I am a male bird—females of my species don’t have bright red at all. You might also see my larger cousin, the hairy woodpecker. Our feather patterns are alike, but his bill is much longer—just about as long as his entire head. The next time you hear tap, tap, tap—look for me!
Be sure to mark your calendars for the Celebrating Birds festivities May 14 at Chagrin River Park!

Your neighbor,

Downy woodpecker


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