Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Red-headed Woodpecker behavior

Spend a good number of hours this morning watching the pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers at May's Point on Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in New York. They were very active bring  feed into the nest cavity until around 10 am.  (Have not seen the chicks to date.)  When I got home and downloaded the images, I began to wonder what they were bringing in. Some of the photos clearly showed legs, likely insects, but several were puzzling.  Upon bringing up to full resolution, I saw this:

It appears to be two round objects, deep purple. I recalled two years ago watching a female Wood Duck nearby as it climbed around in wild grape vines and ate the grapes. There are wild grapes on the vines along the road to May's Point today.  So, I looked further into the sequence of images.

Again there appear to be two round berries, and the second one, on close examination, has a blossom bump (for lack of the proper botanical term).

Let's look at the third image.

I've got plenty more images, and they all lead me to conclude they are feeding wild grapes to their chicks along with insects. On my first visit there, I saw one of the adults collecting berries from the nightshade vines at the base of one of the dead trees.  That confirms that fruit are part of the feed. Had not thought fruit would be in the mix. 

There is always something new to discover in the natural world, especially when you stay in one place and let the action unfold.

Paul Schmitt

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