Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-headed woodpecker low on tree trunkA red-headed woodpecker graced our woods this morning. I spotted him first, and the flash of his bright head made it easy for my boys and husband to find him. We snapped a quick picture, but he was quite far away. (photo left)

He visited again this afternoon. I went outside to try to get a better picture. I could hear his distinct squeak of a call, followed by the indisputable pecking. He was near, but not visible. Patience paid off as he rewarded me with a fly bay, landing about 20 feet in front of me. (photo right)

(click on images for close-ups)

Never staying in one place for long, he flew away to survey the trees in our backyard, when a red-bellied woodpecker landed nearby him. The red-headed woodpecker went after him, and the red-bellied sought refuge in a nearby tree, only to be chased again by the red-headed. Their battle went from tree to tree in a flurry of bright flashes of color until the red-bellied conceded defeat and flew off.

The red-headed woodpecker visited many times throughout the afternoon, providing a nice Sunday treat.  Check out “Did You Know” in the upper left corner for some neat woodpecker facts. Hitting ‘refresh’ brings up a new fact.

Clean Feeders

Prior to become a serious birder, I didn’t realize the importance of clean feeders. Did you know birds suffer from avian forms of malaria, flu, tuberculosis and other infections? Parasites can also wreak havoc on a bird’s health. Some of the most common infections are bacterially spread, and can be contracted by humans, which is why it’s always important to wear plastic or garden gloves when working with feeders.

I soak my feeders prior to each refill in a simple dish soap and hot water solution, and scrub them with a brush designed for cleaning feeders (available at most bird supply stores.) The same goes for suet cages. I recently learned that sterilizing feeders in a 10 percent bleach/water solution after the soap rinse is paramount to promoting disease-free healthy birds. Air dry feeders prior to refilling and hanging them. You may still see bird illness, but at least you’ll know you’ve done your part to prevent it.