On the first day of June this year, we saw our first fledgling Hairy Woodpeckers. First, a young female then this beautiful young male.
They emerged from what must've been a very crowded nest. Hairy Woodpeckers typically lay 4 eggs in a tree cavity that measures only 8" to 12" deep and about 4" around. These two fledglings and perhaps two other siblings have just spent nearly a month in a dark cramped space that had to have been feeling smaller and smaller by the day.
Hairy fledglings are nearly the size of their parents by the time they emerge from the nest. Just imagine four almost full-sized woodpeckers competing for attention and strengthening their wings in a cavity the size of a 2-liter bottle of Coke!!!
They are strong flyers as soon as they emerge and will be fed by mom and dad for just a few days. They'll stay together in the parents' home range until the young can feed themselves. Then the family breaks up - the parents staying and the young taking off on their own, many times spending the rest of their lives only a few miles away from that crowded little cavity where it all started.
SOURCES: Guide to Bird Behavior Volume 1 by Donald and Lillian Stokes; The Birds of North America Online