Saturday, June 16, 2007

Feeding at the Feeder

I have a small, ugly, little block suet feeder cage hanging on a trellis where I can see it from where I sit to use the computer.

This morning, there were two small woodpeckers, Downy, I think, though maybe Hairy (they look a lot alike, but are different sizes). In my Peterson guide, it says you can tell male from female because the males have a red patch on the back of the head, and females don't.

So these woodpeckers. The female is right on the cage thing, and the male is on the trellis, and both are pecking at the suet. Then the female reaches over and feeds the male. And again and again. So what's happening?

Is this some sort of courtship/mating thing?

I'd just assumed that males don't get the red spot thing until they're mature, but maybe they do, and this is a baby getting fed by Mom?

What struck me was that he was right there, pecking at the suet, and she'd feed him anyway.


  1. The cockatoos that feed on my balcony do that. Especially combined with other grooming-type things. Like, they'll snuggle and then one will feed the other. Or one will groom the other a little with its beak, and then will feed it. Someone told me it's a mating thing with parrots, but I don't know about woodpeckers.

  2. So you think the courtship/mating thing? Makes sense.

    When I had a parrot, he didn't try to feed me, but when he got excited, things could get painful! (The grooming thing was just lovely, though! Eyelash massage!)

  3. Anonymous3:34 AM

    See, I was going to say it's a mam feeling it's bairn. We have a blackbird always lurking about with it's baby, and the baby is a lot bigger than it's mam.
    SG's probably right though.

  4. Lina, Could be! I've seen both feeding separately several times over the past day or two now.