The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest of all the North American woodpeckers, a compact and handsome little bird, often found in urban backyards.
The male wears a jaunty red cap, while the female restricts her fashion palette to a crisp and dapper black and white.
They are firm believers in the saying “good things come in small packages.”
I was out walking the dog a few mornings ago and heard what sounded like a small jackhammer. A bit rude to be working on a construction project so early, I thought.
But, getting closer to the hammering, I realized the source was the top of a Hydro pole. I then assumed that it was the usual suspect — the amorous male Northern Flicker looking to impress the ladies.
I stared at the pole for quite a while without being able to spot the percussionist. It took my camera lens finally pick him out — a tiny, but talented, male downy woodpecker.
He was exploring the whole T-bar of the pole, testing here and there to find the best reverb. And he’d found the sweet spot for sure, making a noise that echoed richly around the neighbourhood.
So impressive did he sound — he finally attracted a female Northern Flicker to his perch.
They both looked at each other as if they’d arrived on a blind date . . . and both parties had stretched the truth in their dating profiles.
After an awkward moment or two, the downy made a quiet exit stage right — off in search of his true love.
Here’s the actual object of his affections, taking a little spa time at our bird bath. I’m hoping they’ve sorted the confusion out now and that we can look forward to some even littler downies later in the season.
Incidentally, my very first blog post, written in spring 2014 was about a Downy Woodpecker. You can read it here: Downy Woodpecker Drama
Two big things to take away from the 2014 story:
- Keep your cat indoors
- Donate to your local wildlife rescue centre. Nesting season is always an extra busy time for these volunteer run organizations, especially as they try to work through the Covid-19 complications, so help them out if you can. The organization that saved the downy in 2014 (and countless other birds and other wildlife before and since) is Wildlife Rescue BC.
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