Saturday, February 27, 2010

Avian turf war!

As I was catching up on my emails this morning I heard an angry Red-Bellied woodpecker calling in the tree in the front yard. I noticed her hopping up and down and around the trunk in a very agitated manner. Suddenly a starling's head appeared from the back side of the tree. The two birds pecked and flew at each other angrily. I suspected there was a nest hole that they were fighting over. The tree is a Silver Maple, which I really don't like. They were popular trees to plant in the 1950's and 60's, probably because they were cheap to plant. So, back to the birds... I ran and put the telephoto lens on my camera to try and get some photos. I had to prop the camera on the window to try and steady it to take some movies. Unfortunately, the movie I took of them scuffling was too long to download here.

Later, I went outside to see what the commotion was all about. Sure enough, there was a 3-inch hole in the trunk just below a small branch. That tree has been losing branches over the past few years, so it is probably not going to live too much longer. The woodpecker soon flew up to inspect her prospective home. I don't know how long she has been staking out this claim.

It wasn't long before I heard the familiar whistle of a starling. She had flown to a nearby tree before making her move. They are such nasty birds in every aspect! They are dirty, loud, obnoxious, non-natives that drive off our beautiful native birds. Soon the starling was sitting on the branch. Mama Woodpecker got riled and quickly let the starling know she was not welcome (left)! Look at how her tail feathers are spread as a warning. It was a relief to see her triumph as she entered the hole! :) I hope she will be able to nest there, it would be fun to watch the babies as they grow and learn to fly.
I noticed the birds are singing a lot more now, probably in an attempt to find a mate. The next few weeks will be a busy time for the birds and other animals as they begin to seek out mates and make new homes!
Later... I saw the birds going at it again, so I put my camera on the spotting scope and tripod and took it outside to the road. I was amazed to watch the male woodpecker fight one of the starlings; it was just a blur of feathers (left)!

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