Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Lewis's Woodpecker Visits the Feeders!

Of course I'm counting for Cornell's FeederWatch program; my two days a week are Saturday and Sunday when I don't have to leave for work. Still, I pretty much watch the birds out my big ol' kitchen window every morning as I drink my cup of coffee.

The other day I noticed a couple especially red-headed finches and realized I've got Cassin's Finch here again. Love those top-knots.
You can see that pale, pale belly and know this is no House Finch. You can also see my home-made squirrel-baffles...they work perfectly!

The Evening Grosbeaks come in larger flocks these days; I've had at least 25 at a single visit. My friend Polly reports as many as 50 at a time in her yard! Wow.

One thing though, those are some of the spookiest birds I know. While they are not too flighty when I enter the yard, if something spooks them at least one a month hits my window. Now, I've got tree-netting over the outside and feeders quite close; so most of the birds see the netting and don't hit.

I've found a dead Grosbeak a couple months ago and this past weekend another hit, hard. That sound nearly makes me sick and knowing I was going to find a bird sprawled on the ground, I immediately went out, covered him in a towel (they bite!) and placed him in a box with another towel at the bottom. I left him to settle down after him accident in a safe and quiet spot. An hour later I took the box outside; he looked bright and alert. It didn't take him long to fly away. I especially like that part!

I've been watching the Northern Flickers, too. These red-shafted beauties have discovered not only the suet-cakes I make, but also the finch-feeders! The big galoots hang from the bottom of these feeders and lap at the tiny holes for the niger and canary-seed. It's too funny to watch. I believe they've taught the Downys some bad habits!

And every morning I put out a handful or two of what I call 'fat-worms'; thinly sliced fat I get from Charlie's (our awesome little grocery store here in town) meat department. They save their meat trimmings for 'my' birds which I toss in a little corn-meal after I cut it up. Those magpies try for huge beak-fulls at a time, the corn-meal helps me to keep the stuff from all sticking together. I add a cup of kibble and a good handful of of unshelled peanuts and they're in hog's heaven. I mean that literally; they're pretty much pigs! 'Course, this mix also brings in a few Blue Jays and the occasional crow, too. Oddly, the woodpeckers pretty much avoid this flat-bed feeder and prefer the suet-blocks I make.

However, imagine my surprise when I saw a Lewis's Woodpecker at that feeder! I had no idea they ever came to feeders...and have since discovered they don't! But there it was, picking at the kibble. Now, I have a very large dog and the kibble is good sized, too; the starlings can't swallow it; yeah! But this woodpecker apparently thought it looked good as acorns and claimed the feeder for his own. Back and forth he flew, about every two minutes till I had to leave for work, taking a single kibble and flying high up a cottonwood tree. A few times it mixed it up with several magpies at once who tried to score a free meal while watching him try to hide
his stash.

Returning to the yard, the Lewis's would buzz any of the three Flickers who where there, a Blue Jay, too...any big bird he felt had no business in what he obviously claimed as his food source.

I wonder if he'll be back. Actually, I wonder if there were two, for as often as a Lewis's returned to that particular feeder. It did quickly learn to hang upside down from the suet cage, too. I wish I had had more time to watch...
Addendum: He's baaack! I made sure to put extra kibble out this morning...and sure enough, the Lewis's was on it like he owned it!


DJB's Photo Adventures said...

A very cool encounter with at a Lewis' Woodpecker and you got great pictures to boot!

Beverly said...

LOL You are very kind, Debbie! Just cuz you can recognize the bird doesn't make it a great shot! Someday maybe I'll have a better rig; I really liked that DIY digiscoping setup. Did you see that little video clip? Awesome

Anyway, the Lewis's was back first thing this morning; I was happy to put out extra kibble! I can hardly wait for the weekend when I can watch him a bit...

Thanks for visiting!

Connie Kogler said...

I love those birds! While living in Montrose, I had one visit my tray feeder - a one day wonder, but what a treat!

Beverly said...

Hiya Connie!

I love 'em too...but have decided NOT to encourage him to stay. Dang, he's so scrappy, I just watched him take on a squirrel. Sheeshhhhhhhh

Thanks for stopping by!

Chas S. Clifton said...

Good shot of the Lewis. I see them here in eastern Custer County, but only rarely. Downey woodpeckers are more common.

And I have *two* suet-block feeders out, only to see the jays often ignore them in favor of sunflower seeds.

Beverly said...

Hey Chas, good to 'see' you!

Well, I have Downys, Hairys, flickers, nuthatches and two kinds of chickadees that all love the suet...not to mention the dratted starlings (sigh). But for a few days there, that Lewis's tried to keep them all away. He's still around, but not as much since I quit putting out kibble. He pretty much ignores the 'fat-worms' and peanuts, but does hit the suet cake now and then; today in fact.

Ya know, when I put store-bought cakes in the cage...they last longer. I think my birdies are spoiled with my home-made suet-cakes. I use lard, peanut-butter, oats, corn-meal and a little wheat flour. No sugar or salt, of course. Sometimes I add baked and crushed egg-shells and a little sand, but more often some old, soaked raisins I've chopped. I don't put nuts or bird seed in the mix; nuts are too expensive and the seed is in many feeders around the yard. I had a naturalist (Kevin Cook) tell me it's best not to mix food items much.

Anyway, while I have do have Blue Jays; they LOVE peanuts, and ignore fat-worms and suet, both. But then, how adept are they at hanging upside down on a suet cage? Perhaps they'd go for it if you smeared it on a tree or filled up holes in a hanging piece o'log...

Thanks for your kind comment regarding the shots I got of the woodpecker...I just wanted folks to know it really was a Lewis's! LOL