Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Red-bellied Woodpeckers Mating

Early on a cool, sunny, clear afternoon, a Parula Warbler sang and sang in the woods, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher called spee, a Tiger Swallowtail floated through the trees, and a Phoebe, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Carolina Wren also sang nearby.

A male Red-bellied Woodpecker flew into the top part of a broken-off snag of a thick dead pine, about 25 feet tall. The snag has several broken limbs around the top and is partially screened by the leaves of a water oak beside it. A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers has been very active and vocal around this area for the past several days, and I wondered if there might be a nest hole on the other side of the snag where I can’t see it.

The Woodpecker went around the snag at the top several times, pecking now and then, but seeming restless. Then he hopped onto one of the branches and called a loud quuooorrr. His red cap glistened and shimmered like silk. A female Red-bellied Woodpecker flew to the branch beside him, and he immediately hopped on top of her and – I presume – they mated. It was only a matter of a very few seconds.

He immediately flew away to another tree nearby and made chucking calls. She stayed on the branch and preened under her wings, sort of flattened her body out, looked around, and was silent. After three or four minutes, she also flew away.


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