Saturday, March 16, 2019

Hairy Woodpecker

A pair of Hairy Woodpeckers regularly visit our suet feeders. The male and female make separate feeding trips. On 14 March 2019, two females appeared in the backyard. The one in focus on the left side of the tree in this photo was clearly dominant, perhaps the territory owner. The dominant bird chased the new-comer from tree to tree. The other woodpecker often flew to the backside of trees.

This behavior may be part of the Hairy Woodpecker “Bill-waving Dance Display, “ which includes jerky body movements and bill waving. The birds often stop, mid-display, with bills pointed up—perhaps preparing to attack or for defense. Since the bird on the right in the photo appeared not to be the dominant individual, its upward pointing bill may be a defensive posture. This display is often seen between Hairy Woodpeckers and also during encounters with other species that are nesting site competitors (Jackson et al. 2018).

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