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.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Red headed bird with black and white back

I never grow tired of this feathered visitor. - Greg

If you have some hungry woodpeckers it’s probably because they have already begun nesting. Both male and female Red-bellied Woodpeckers work together to select the nest site and excavate the nest, as well as incubate the eggs and feed the chicks even up to 10 weeks after they fledge.

Breeding pairs begin forming any time between early winter and late spring, and nesting begins in March and April. Nests are usually excavated in dead trees or the dead limbs of live trees. Red-bellied Woodpeckers have a unique ritual of testing the nest site by having one member of the pair tapping softly on the wood from inside a cavity, and the other tapping back from the outside. Once secure, the female lays one egg a day for four days. The eggs are smooth, oval, and glossy white. Both parents incubate the eggs, which hatch after about 12 days.

"Pip"-ing sounds come from the egg two hours before the naked chicks use their egg teeth to peck through the eggshell. About six days after hatching, the baby woodpeckers' eyes begin to open and claws and flight feathers appear. On the tenth to twelfth day pin feathers project from skin and on the twenty-first day the young have all of their feathers fluffed and the egg teeth are gone. During this time, both parents bring food to the chicks in the nest. They eat a wide variety of fruits, nuts, seeds, berries as well as ants, flies, grasshoppers, beetle larvae and caterpillars.

They begin to leave the nest a month after hatching, but stay near the tree cavity for a few days. Then the fledglings will follow their parents for a couple months learning how to survive on their own. Toward the end of this period, the adults drive the fledglings away to find their own territory. These young birds won’t be able to breed until the next spring. Meanwhile the parents will stick around but usually don't raise a second brood. Most pairs are only able to raise one brood per season.

Thank you Greg for sharing your excellent photographs! If anyone would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com
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-Hairy Woodpecker vs. Downy Woodpecker http://goo.gl/WMH31
-How many woodpeckers are in Michigan? http://goo.gl/P2qRv
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