This morning’s catch: A Red-bellied Woodpecker giving its vibrant querrr calls, along with tapping, at a potential nest site.

I was so lucky to get this footage. After a frustrating morning trying to locate a Ruffed Grouse drumming log, with no success, I returned home to take a shower and mellow out. Just as I got out of my car, I heard the telltale querrr call of a Red-bellied. Heading in the direction of the sound, I soon discovered the woodpecker perched near the top of a dead stub (a tree whose top was missing). He was calling with regularity and tapping at the bark intermittently. Looking more closely with my binoculars, I discovered what appears to be the beginnings of a nest hole. I sure hope a pair nests there, right at my doorstep, where they will be easy to observe and videotape.

I am quite enthusiastic about the woodpeckers in my backyard. Yesterday I found a Pileated Woodpecker nest, about twenty-five feet up an aspen tree. I saw an adult male pecking around a fresh-looking nest hole. Should a pair nest in that hole, I’ll have an excellent view of the young come June, when they excitedly gander at the outside world just before they are fledged.

But I also want to find nests of other species. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are common in our woods, and they’re drumming like crazy now. At least two Northern Flickers call and drum all morning long, but where are their nests? We also have Downy and Hairy woodpeckers. Please point me in the direction of their dwellings!

While I generally don’t do videography of nests (due to the disturbance factor), I make an exception with woodpeckers. Why? Because I can videotape adults and nestlings from a considerable distance, without causing them undue stress. If I see stress reactions, all I need to do is move farther away, or else put up my hide (my photographer’s blind).

I love my woodpeckers, every last one of them. It is wonderful that they drum on resonant wood during breeding season, thereby providing a percussive low-pitched counterpoint to the musical tweeting of the songbird tribe. Ah … that reminds me … I still need footage of a Red-bellied doing his “drumming thing.” Would someone please point me in the right direction?

lang_500-300x300NOTE: For novice birders, I must explain that this is indeed a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and not a Red-headed Woodpecker, the latter having a entirely red head and upper neck (= a red “hood”). The Red-bellied is named for the “wash of pinkish-red” often but not always seen on its belly. In my video, this wash is not apparent at all, which I admit is quite confusing.

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