Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What a beautiful spring day here at Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast Inn and Spa. There was a male red-bellied woodpecker at the suet feeder this morning and he brought his mate. I don’t usually see her except in the spring when she is feeding her young.  He has a bill to nape bright orange-red head.  She has only a small portion of red on her head.  9 1/4 ” long, the red-bellied has a chisel-shaped bill and zebra pattern of black and white horizontal stripes on the back. The red-bellied woodpecker is named for a feature which is rarely seen by birders, a light wash of pink or red on it’s belly. However, here at Songbird Prairie, when they come frequently to the feeders, we see the belly often. The courtship starts with the male drumming on a tree trunk or branch to attract the female’s attention. Both male and female excavate the nest cavity, which is usually located in a dead tree below an overhanging branch. The 8-12 ” deep cavity will accommodate four eggs. Incubation duties are shared and last about 12 days. Nestlings are fed in the nest cavity by both parents for almost a month before they fledge, afterward, they remain near the nest and are fed by the parents for several more weeks. The nestlings have no red on them. This is for their protection. We often see the parents bringing the nestlings to the feeders. When the feeders are empty, the male’s long ringing calls are telling me to “get breakfast on the table”.  Many birds are migrating to the nearby Dunes National Lakeshore.

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