Friday, December 12, 2008

Backyard Woodpeckers

My posting and commenting are probably going to be somewhat sporadic from now until the end of the year due to the fact that I need to get some Christmas presents knitted up and also my workload is increasing a bit as the year-end orders start coming in to manufacturing, so if you don't hear from me regularly, that's what's going on.

Today I have some fun pictures of some woodpeckers in my backyard. Here's the Red-Bellied Woodpecker getting peanuts out of this tube feeder in spite of the starling/squirrel guard I've got over the feeder. Isn't it amazing how far he can stretch through the wire? Then he uses his tongue to get a peanut out of the feeder port. It seems like an awful lot of work to me, especially in light of the fact that I have several easily accessible suet and peanut feeders in the yard, but I guess it's just a woodpecker thing. Gives me a chuckle watching him though.

Here's a handsome Hairy Woodpecker. I felt lucky to get this picture. These guys are pretty cautious and usually don't hang around the feeders long enough for me to grab the camera and get it focused.
Those dang starlings are still hanging around. (The trap is filled with snow, so I'll have to get it thawed out sometime over the weekend and set it up again.) I filled the suet log that hangs off my deck and yesterday when I got home from work the log was almost completely emptied and there was all kinds of starling poop on the patio below. Those dirty pigs! So this morning I took the drastic measure of putting the cage over this suet log to keep the starlings out. Here's a little video I took of the Downy Woodpecker enjoying the suet in this log--and how easily he gets to it despite the starling guard. I feel bad because I think this guard will also deter some of the bigger woodpeckers (except maybe that crazy Red-Bellied!), but at least I won't have the aggravation of having mobs of starlings right outside the dining room window.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Shellmo said...

I love that pic of the red bellied really stretching to get at your feeder! And congrats on getting that shot of the Hairy - they are hard to get - so much shyer than the Downy!

Kallen305 said...

I thought of you today when I had my first flock of starlings raid my suet. First it were those awful house sparrows eating it and now these jerks!! I noticed they don't like the hanging suet feeders so I am afraid I am going to have to only feed suet from those for the time being. Like you it saddens me because I love my red bellied woodpecker and I don't know how he will do on a hanging one.

I love your photo of the hairy. Based on your photo, I now have an idea of how much larger he is to the downey.

I had now idea the red bellied would eat seed from the feeder!! I have not seen mine do that yet, but maybe he will do so now that the suet will be harder for him to get.

Have fun with your knitting.

Ruth said...

Three different woodpeckers at your feeders. Lucky! I have never seen a Hairy Woodpecker in the city although they are very common on the trails. Do you have Red-headed woodpeckers in your area? I have never seen one.

dAwN said...

I think the cage is a great idea..loved the video...
Sometimes you have to do what you have to do to keep those pesky critters away..
happy birding and knitting...

Mary said...

Those woodpeckers are something. I always enjoy the Downys' approach to a feeder from the ground up, where the red-bellieds usually dive directly to the suet. I haven't seen my woodpeckers yet, but I'm hopeful.

I'm glad to see the cages work. I'll have to invest in one or two of them!

Relax and knit, Ruthie. I would guess that most of us will be getting very busy soon. Heck, I'm already busy and I haven't done any shopping yet! Aaaaaack!


Anonymous said...

Yes we have plenty of woodpeckers, the red bellied goes to the suet log feeder a lot, as do the downy and the hairy. One of our suet plugs was sticking out and Dad went out to fix it, he came to find out that a squirrel had been out there and chewed a chunk of the log and probably had plans to steal the whole suet plug, naughty little buggers, just stick to eating the corn we put out. They can share it with the blue jays.

Enjoyed the video, that was real cute of that downy to get right in there.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

I wonder how long it will take the Starling to figure out how to get to the suet?? Dont' work too hard Ruthie. Try to enjoy the holidays some.

Maud said...

Cool woodpecker pictures!

Jayne said...

What a great video Ruthie! I am definitely going to have to make me one of those suet logs!

Mama Pea said...

Do we get to see any of the knitted projects you'll be working on before Christmas? Or would putting them on your blog spoil some Christmas surprises for some people? I love to see projects in process and then when completed.

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Shelley. I like seeing the Hairy woodpeckers too, they're always so spiffy looking!

Hi Kim,
I'm just about to the point where I give up and switch to plain suet. I'll have to check with my WBU store and see what a case would cost--hate those starlings!
P.S. Your red-bellied woodpecker shouldn't have any problems getting used to the hanging suet feeder once he discovers there's something he likes in there!

Hi Ruth,
Red-Headed Woodpeckers are really uncommon here. We usually see 1 or 2 in the more wooded area of our neighborhood, but never at my feeders. My sister had a pair in her yard in town a couple years ago, but their nesting attempt was unsuccessful.

Thanks Dawn--I'm having a good weekend doing the 2 things I love best--birding and knitting!

Hi Mary,
I'm glad that I can make most of my presents and the little bit of shopping I do is usually on-line. I can hardly stand grocery shopping, so dealing with the holiday gift shoppers is out of the question. I'll just be hanging around at home this weekend.

Hi Mom,
My squirrels must be semi-hibernating, because they aren't even coming to get pecans out of the nut box. I finally saw a possum on the patio last night--they've been gone since all the snow and cold. I suppose with the weather we're supposed to get, she will disappear again for a while.

Hi Lisa,
I'm hoping the starlings won't try to fly up under the cage--I don't think so because they're too big.

Thanks Maud--you have woodpeckers in Finland, don't you?

Hi Jayne,
I've made them before too--you need a drill and a keyhole bit (1 & 1/8 if you can find it). I bought this suet log because it was birch and I didn't have any birch scraps around here. It's better if you use wood that has a really textured bark so the woodpeckers can grab on--just don't use oak (it's too hard to drill!)

Hi Mama Pea,
Yup, pictures coming soon! I took a few yesterday and more this afternoon when I finish a couple more things.

Marsha said...

Great woodpecker shots! I am not lucky enough to have red bellies but I so enjoy the downy & hairys here in my backyard. The starlings do bother my suet and peanut feeders but the biggest culprits here are those dreaded squirrels. They are everywhere.

Heather said...

Oh those woodpeckers, they are so smart. I guess I was surprised to watch that Downy go right through the cage to get on the suet log - thought maybe it would just perch on the outside and streeetch through like the Red-belly did.
Good luck with your knitting and holiday preparations. My baking frenzy has begun in earnest. First batch of cookies is officially crossed off the list though. Take care, and don't work too hard! ;)

Heather said...

Oh yeah, forgot to mention that I like your new winter Meez. Very cute.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Marsha,
I think I'm going to switch over to plain suet for my unprotected feeders. The starlings only come to it for the peanuts and peanut butter in the suet, so if I eliminate what attracts them, then just the woodpeckers will continue coming.

Hi Heather,
I've watched the Downies go through this cage when I put it over the tube feeders during grackle season also and I was happy to see it didn't bother them when I put it over the suet log.
Knitting's going good I started a cap this morning and should finish it yet tonight. I don't do much baking (since I end up eating most of the cookies myself!), but I would like to get at least one batch of lefsa made before Christmas.

Heather said...

Okay, I looked up lefsa and found a recipe and picture on I'm intrigued. The picture made them look kind of like potato tortillas. How are they served? What do you eat them with?

Also, in the comment you left on my "nerd" post, you said something about UFOs. I have a vague recollection of that as a knitting thing, but I can't put my finger on it. Can you refresh my memory? I'd love to see a post on all your knitting paraphernalia!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Heather,
Potato tortilla is the same description we told my Hispanic SIL! They are a Norwegian treat. Most people around here eat them with butter and sugar (white or brown). I went to a Norwegian restaurant in Wisconsin one time that had them on the menu as roll-ups: stuffed with meatballs and mashed potatoes and good brown gravy on top. Heaven on earth!

UFOs are unfinished objects and I have bunches!

Leedra said...

After your comment at Richard's At the Water about going out in PJ's just had to come for a visit.

First thing on your profile, something caught my eye. I am a tatooed ex-biker lady. I have not been on a motorcycle since 1996 when I sold my Harley. But the tatoo can't be sold. :)

Love the woodpecker trying to stretch to get that special peanut!