Woodpecker Alarm Clock

Most people have alarm clocks.

We have Woodpeckers.

And they are pretty good at making sure no one really sleeps in over the weekend.

Last year, the two breeding Red-Bellied Woodpeckers (a misleading name, since only the tops or backs of their heads are actually red – but “Red-Headed Woodpecker” was already taken) had both a male chick and a female chick.  Normally, the woodpeckers arrive in spring and depart somewhere by the end of summer.  But the young male decided to take up residence, and has remained ever since.

His parents are back, along with their daughter from last year.

The reason I know these are the returning parents is because of behavior they learned a couple or three years ago and have repeated with each arrival – banging on the gutter like a jackhammer.

I think the origin of this is because usually prior to opening our French-window back door to put food out for wildlife, I usually tap several times on the glass so I don’t startle anyone out there.  The female woodpecker (Woodina) began doing the “rap-on-the-gutter” first.  I remember hearing a loud and rapid hammering outside and couldn’t figure out what it was until I looked up and saw, basically, this (click picture for larger view):








I tossed a peanut up to her (because woodpeckers also love roasted, unsalted peanuts as a treat).  She proceeded to teach the male woodpecker (Woody) and her daughter Baby Woodina.

All of them have a different style.  Woodina is the most assertive.  She will do a rapid and continuous hammering, wait about 5-10 seconds, and then repeat it, and so on for a few cycles.  She’ll wait on the gutter for me to toss her a peanut.  She’ll also let me toss one in the air and she will soar after it and catch it mid-air – which is quite an impressive trick.

Baby Woodina does just two rather subdued taps and also waits there.  Woody will tap, and immediately fly up into the tree because he’s shy.  Baby Woody prefers to issue a call when he’s in the tree rather than tapping (see this site and click on the “Kwirr” call to hear what it sounds like).  I toss his peanuts onto the patio and he swoops down to get them (click picture for larger view):








Along with the woodpeckers, we have a bevy of other birds.  Here’s a Blue Jay who is a very sedate fellow (or gal).  Normally Blue Jays are fairly raucous and aggressive.  This one has a very mild temperament – not shy – but simply very laid-back.  If you’re curious what’s on the end of his beak, it’s a Golden Rain Tree Beetle (click picture for larger view):








We’re also seeing a lot of Morning Glories this year, due to timely and generous rainfall.  The Morning Glory has always been my favorite flower, for the record  (click picture for larger view):








Besides Woodpeckers and Blue Jays, as I’ve mentioned before, Squirrels love roasted, unsalted peanuts.  This squirrel has a slightly-askew right rear paw – but it hasn’t ever stopped her from climbing and jumping (a missed jump is the likely cause of the problem).   I usually call her Left-Paw Squirrel – because when I ask if she wants a peanut, she raises her left forepaw and waves at me.  It’s always the left forepaw, and none of the other squirrels ever do this.  They just stare at me blankly or sit up, looking around  (click picture for larger view):

5 thoughts on “Woodpecker Alarm Clock

  1. A fun post Matthew. It must be nice to have so many furry and feathered friends. Some have very unique talents – your garden is like an outpost of Disney World. 🙂

  2. Cracking post, wonderful when you get wild animals to interact with you. We used to have a backyard Red Squirrel called Eric. Trouble was he had no sense of balance so we set up a home for him in the yard and he moved in. Now since Eric passed, other squirrel’s have moved in and love it when we put food on the bird table.

    • I hope the American grey squirrels aren’t driving away the native Red Squirrels too much. I know that can be quite a problem over there.

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