Watching Woodpeckers

When we are not being inundated by sparrows and squirrels, we are happy to see other creatures in the garden. Recently, we’ve noticed downy and red-bellied woodpeckers. Watching them, it’s easy to see how they inspired the endearing Woody Woodpecker character of cartoon fame, even though ours don’t have the bright red crest.

Thankfully, the woodpecker wasn’t doomed to be memorialized merely as a comedian. In his poem The Progress of Spring, Alfred Lord Tennyson refers to it as “the jubilant woodpecker” and it also gets a mention from other famous poets such as Robert Frost in The Ghost House, Percy Bysshe Shelley in The Recollection and Carl Sandburg in River Roads. The woodpecker has certainly made its mark in the world of literature.

In our garden, they usually only come down to the feeders when the coast is clear but once there, they’ll defend their position vigorously. Of the two downy woodpeckers that we see regularly, the female (the one without the red blotch on the back of the head) is by far the more aggresive when it comes to fending off the competition.

With its long bill, the red-bellied woodpecker is perfectly postitioned to get at those hard-to-reach morsels. I believe the one that appears in these pictures is a female and she is not such a frequent visitor so I count myself lucky if she arrives while I am waiting by the window with the camera.

The sparrows and woodpeckers may have their squabbles but they are united by one common enemy, in this case the hawk that likes to swoop down and perch on the neighbor’s fence, although judging by past experience, the sparrow has more to worry about than the woodpecker.


33 thoughts on “Watching Woodpeckers

  1. Love the commentary about these lovely birds. Will go and check up the links to literature ..thank you! Great photos of all the birds showing their best sides…all very characterful!

  2. Aww these pictures are beautiful 💕🥰 I have a family of sparrows that hang out in my yard and they’re so fun to watch too lol I love how tiny and cute they are as they hope around in the grass 😂

    April ♡

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