Well that didn't take long! Just a few days ago I posted to look for woodpecker parents carrying mouthfuls of Bark Butter back to the nest. And now the young are starting to show up in the yard!
Hairy and Downy Woodpecker fledglings have probably already been out of the nest for a few days by the time you see them in your yard. During those first few days, they stay close to the nest location and are still fed by mom and dad. But now's the time to venture a bit further and for mom and dad to show the young where to find food, hopefully at your birdfeeders!
Hairy and downy parents will bring their young to the area around your birdfeeders at first, so keep an eye on nearby trees. Young birds will wait there for a parent to bring them a beakful of food. Watch closely and you may be lucky enough to see a parent feeding a young bird. After a few days, the young will join the parent on the birdfeeder and soon after that, the young bird will start picking at the food as they learn to feed themselves at your feeders.
Here's some helpful hints to identify young woodpeckers:
- Young woodpeckers will be almost full sized birds and oftentimes are larger than their parents who have lost weight while tending to young in the nest.
- Young birds will show clean, unworn feathers. Their parents, on the other hand, look a little unkempt. The parents' feathers look worn (think of all those trips in and out of the nesthole!) and the white feathers can look a little brownish from the tannins in the tree.
- Young birds will look somewhat fluffy, especially on their head.
- If you see a patch of red on the top of a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker's head, it is a young bird. If it's a male, the patch will reappear on the back of his head (just like dad's) after his first molt.
Watching young birds is so enjoyable. Power up your observation skills and enjoy their antics!