New England’s woodpeckers

Photo by Chris Bosak A pileated woodpecker looks for insects at the base of a tree at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., April 2017.
Photo by Chris Bosak
A pileated woodpecker looks for insects at the base of a tree at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., April 2017.

I’ve been lucky enough this week to have seen six of the woodpeckers that live in New England. In fact, early in the week I had for the first time a yellow-bellied sapsucker at my feeder. It made two quick visits to a suet feeder and disappeared for good.

The species I saw were downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, northern flicker, red-bellied woodpecker, yellow-bellied sapsucker and pileated woodpecker. Those are the most commonly seen woodpeckers in New England. Red-headed woodpeckers are seen on occasion and a few species (black-backed and three-toed) require a trip to far northern New England to see.

Songbirds, such as warblers and grosbeaks, steal the show during spring, but woodpeckers Continue reading

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Working for peanuts

Photo by Chris Bosak A downy woodpecker eats peanuts from a feeder in Danbury, CT, March 2019.

Here’s a downy woodpecker getting peanuts from the homemade feeder I mentioned in yesterday’s post.

It’s funny how birds prefer their food offered in different ways. White-breasted nuthatches and downy woodpeckers are all over this feeder. They typically perch on the feeder and peck away at the shell to expose the nut inside. My other peanut eaters — blue jays, red-bellied woodpeckers and tufted titmice — barely touch this feeder and prefer to grab their peanuts from a platform feeder and fly off with it.

For the Birds: DIY birding projects

Photo by Chris Bosak
A downy woodpecker eats a homemade Christmas-themed suet cake, December 2018.

Most birdwatchers I know have a self-reliant, practical side. They don’t necessarily long to live off the grid in a small cabin in the wilderness, hunting for their food and cutting down trees to stay warm, but there is a hint of that spirit in a lot of us.

Luckily, there are many do-it-yourself projects for birdwatchers that may be done in the comfort of our heated, electrified, and well-stocked homes. The projects will save a few bucks (no pun intended) and result in that satisfaction only a good DIY activity can deliver.

The easiest project is making your own hummingbird food. It is inexpensive and requires almost no skill. In other words, perfect for someone like me.

Simply mix four parts water with one part sugar and you’ve got hummingbird food. I usually double the recipe to eight cups of water and two cups of sugar so it lasts longer. I like to bring the water to the point at which it is about to boil then turn off the heat and add the sugar. Most of the sugar will dissolve itself in the hot water, but a minute or two Continue reading

A nice first bird of the year

Photo by Chris Bosak A pileated woodpecker searches for food in a dead tree on New Year's Day 2018.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A pileated woodpecker searches for food in a dead tree on New Year’s Day 2018.

The weather app on the phone said the temperature was 0 degrees (yes, as in zero). It was New Year’s Day, though, so no excuses: I had to take that walk I promised myself I’d take.

Photo by Chris Bosak A pileated woodpecker searches for food in a dead tree on New Year's Day 2018.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A pileated woodpecker searches for food in a dead tree on New Year’s Day 2018.

As soon as I walked out the door I heard a loud knocking that I strongly suspected was a pileated woodpecker. A quick glance in the direction of the knocking and my suspicion was confirmed. A female pileated woodpecker banged away at a dead tree in the backyard (well, technically not my backyard, but open space that abuts my backyard.)

First bird of 2018 is a pileated woodpecker. Not bad at all.

I watched the crow-sized woodpecker for several minutes and snapped photos until my “shooting” hand froze. That didn’t take long.

I moved on to give the woodpecker some peace and quiet on this frigid day.

The rest of the walk was rather uneventful, but I did see three other types of Continue reading

Another shot of the ‘pileated’ woodpecker

Photo by Chris Bosak  A pileated woodpecker looks for insects at the base of a tree at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., April 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A pileated woodpecker looks for insects at the base of a tree at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., April 2017.

Here’s another photo of the pileated woodpecker I saw the other day.

Hearing the name of this remarkable bird begs the question: What does pileated mean? According to dictionary.com, it simply means “crested,” an apt name for this woodpecker. There’s also this, more descriptive, definition from thefreedictionary.com: “Etymologically means “capped,” like a mushroom, but now refers to a bird with a crest on the top of the head from the bill to the nape.”

So there you have it …

 

Pileated Woodpecker — finally

Photo by Chris Bosak A pileated woodpecker looks for insects at the base of a tree at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., April 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak A pileated woodpecker looks for insects at the base of a tree at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., April 2017.

It took going on two years, but I finally got a shot of one of the pileated woodpeckers that I hear frequently in the woods behind my house. I’ve seen them before, but only at a distance and only fleeting looks.

I wondered when I’d see one working away at the multitude of dead pines in the woods. There are dozens upon dozens of these snags and they all have big holes chiseled out of them — a telltale sign of pileated woodpeckers. Yesterday was my day. The impressive bird was noisy in its calling and noisy in its banging away at the tree. It’s amazing the force at which they hammer at trees.

This guy (it is a male as females lack the red “mustache”) remained only about five minutes before heading deeper into the woods, calling as it flew.

Another New England woodpecker in the snow; keep sending me your photos!

https://birdsofnewengland.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/rdwood1c.jpg

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red-bellied Woodpecker eyes a peanut a few days following a snowstorm in Danbury, Conn., February, 2017.

Yesterday I posted photos hairy and downy woodpeckers. Today it’s the red-bellied woodpecker’s turn. They love peanuts at my house (as you can tell from the amount of photos I post of them grabbing peanuts off my deck railing.)

Not too long ago, the red-bellied woodpecker wasn’t a New England woodpecker. The species is gradually expanding its range northward and is now very common in southern New England and becoming more and more common in the middle of New England.

Now that’s it’s snowing again (it’s the morning of Sunday, Feb. 12 as I write) feel free to keep sending me your snow bird photos. I got some great shots on Thursday from readers, how about some more? To see the Thursday entries, click here.