Woodpeckers begin to make their appearance this time of year, already preparing to raise young who will emerge with the spring.
We see red-bellied woodpeckers in our area. They don’t actually have red bellies. The males have red heads while the females have a red cape across the back of their neck. But “red-headed” woodpecker was a name that was probably already taken.
A few years ago, Woody (the male) began to pay attention to the fact that I tap a few times on the glass of the back door prior to opening it and tossing out a few peanuts for whatever critters have congregated.
I soon began to hear a rapid and loud thumping outside. After hearing it on a few occasions, I happened to look up and noticed Woody clinging to the gutter on the edge of the house where it extends past the back door. So I opened the door and tossed a peanut to him.
Woody taught his wife, Woodina, and they taught Baby Woodina and others of the next couple generations.
Last year, baby Woody remained behind after the parents eventually moved on to wherever it is they usually go by late summer. He’s remained through the winter, full-grown now with a brilliant red head. And also very feisty – unlike his more shy father, he’s very willing to snatch a peanut out from under the very beak of a larger blue jay as the latter is about to pick one up.
However, baby Woody has chosen through all this to “call” when he gets a peanut hankering sort of feeling. Wodpeckers don’t have a particularly beautiful songbird kind of song, but it’s very distinctive.
This morning, just after I closed the door after tossing out a handful of peanuts, I heard a rapid staccato on the gutter and looked out. Woodina has returned (or maybe a grown daughter). So up went a peanut and off she flew with her prize. A little while later, she repeated it again and was satisfied with a second welcome-back treat.
I’m hoping her mate will also make an appearance and they’ll raise out young once again.