Friday, May 1, 2015
I was filming something behind the deck, standing near the bird feeder, and was surprised when a male Downy Woodpecker approached within a few feet, acting as though it was going to ignore my presence. They are not as retiring as the Red-bellied Woodpecker, but this one was a little bolder than usual.
He came in on a close branch as though sizing up whether I was any real danger to him. The red feathers on his crown mark him as a male. When I am standing in front of the camera (which is nearly always on a tripod), I don't look quite like a "normal" human being and I think that sometimes throws them. Their face recognition software fails to work properly. It is the same idea as when you sit inside a car. A bird has almost no fear of a human in a car.
I backed off a little distance and he came in to work on the fat above the feeder. Fat is a good energy food in the winter. We just haven't removed it yet for the summer.
While he was pecking away at the fat, a female downy came in and landed on top of a stump. I am not sure whether she hesitated to come in because of me or because of him.
She moved a little higher onto a nearby branch. It was hard to tell who she was studying. Some birds come to the feeder accompanied by their mate. Others appear to even chase their mate away.
It is possible, the female was not his mate. I have no way of knowing. But it is also possible it was his mate and he just didn't want her there at the same time he was there. Once he chased her off, he returned to the feeder.