Red-bellied Woodpeckers Continue Their Work

A female and a male Red-bellied Woodpecker are continuing to excavate what I assume is a roost hole in a tall dead pine. Both yesterday and today, one of the two were at work in the same spot each time I went outside to look for them. They work so quietly that if I didn’t know where to look I wouldn’t know they were there – unusual for a bird I usually think of as very vocal and certainly not shy or secretive. Yesterday I again saw the female leave when the male arrived, giving a low, brief rattle in flight as he approached, and he immediately began to work just as she had.

Though I can’t see it, the hole must be getting larger and deeper. When the woodpeckers lean over to work on it now, they almost disappear from my view, leaving only the end of a bobbing tail visible on the pine trunk from my location on our back deck. But they still come back repeatedly to a vertical position on the trunk in full profile, and I’ve watched through the scope again as they lean in, come up with a big bill-full of wood fiber and toss it away, doing this several times in a row, then pausing, and leaning over several times just to dig or peck.

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