About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is that woodpecker sleeping on my feeder?

I watched a Downy Woodpecker yesterday freeze in position against the feeder for several minutes. I'm wondering if it was snoozing? It was a most interesting behavior.

Did the feeding station suddenly go quiet? Was there any other activity at the feeders? If the downy saw a hawk it may have decided to remain completely still instead of taking its chances by flying away from a predator.

Yesterday I spotted a Cooper's Hawk as it swooped down and perched on a high tree branch. Birds scattered everywhere except for one Downy Woodpecker that froze in position against the feeder. I was amazed at how long this woodpecker remained completely still. When the hawk flew to another tree, the downy quickly shifted positions to the other side of the feeder. After about ten minutes the hawk flew away and the downy became animated again, the winner of a life or death game of hide and seek.


Kerri said...

Yay! The one that got away! I've never seen one do that before......great post!

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

I've never seen a hawk attempt a woodpecker snatch, but I have seen this freezing technique a lot. Sometimes when I’m in the yard the birds are so used to me there’s no warning signals given and I’ve talked to a couple frozen downy woodpeckers while I’ve filled nearby feeders.

As for the hawk, it usually stakes out a position and waits for an unsuspecting mourning dove. Last week it misjudged its swoop and banged right into our window feet first. It left a beautiful, clear, huge dust print on the window. Everyone was ok.

David said...

I see this sometimes at my feeders as well. Whenever I notice a sudden calm, and "frozen" birds, I start looking above for a perched or circling predator. Even the squirrels employ the frozen hiding tactic - seems to work.

Helga said...

Today I had a downy frozen at the one suet feeder, and a chickadee also frozen at another one. I looked in the trees and saw another downy and what appeared to be a titmouse higher up, also frozen in position. So odd. I did not see any howls nearby. I have been noticing these postures more often. We are in a wooded area in the country. I have seen many hawks along the roadsides and the fields, but never in the woods. So glad I found this post.