Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Definitely Not Birdbrained

This past Saturday, I glanced out the window and saw an interesting bird at the feeder. It was slightly bigger than the sparrows, black and white with feathers that seemed extra fluffy. I watched this bird dig around in the feeder for a bit, then it flew just a couple of feet over and down, and started to poke it's beak into the wooden post that is a support for the roof over the patio. This process was repeated many times over the course of about 20 minutes. Dig in the feeder, fly down to the post, poke around, fly back to the feeder. What was that bird doing? It looked like it was filling a crack in the wood with the birdseed. Why would it be doing that? I knew this bird had to be some type of woodpecker, and wondered if they stuff food into wood to save for later? Fascinated, I hated to leave the room to grab my camera, but I didn't want to miss out on the photo opportunity either.

Camera finally in hand, I began to snap pictures.

See the little tongue?

I was sad when the bird finished it's trips back and forth from the feeder and flew away, but was so curious about what it was doing, that I ran right outside to get a closer look at that crack in the post.  Here is what I found:

See the opened and empty sunflower seed?

In an act of pure critter genius, this bird was using the crack in the post as a tool. Not storing food, instead it was using the crack to hold the sunflower seeds so they could be easily opened!  The ground below the post was littered with shells discarded after the bird had exposed and eaten the fleshy seed.  All that digging in the bird feeder was finally explained; it only wanted the sunflower seeds.  I was amazed and in awe of this little bird, and the smarts given to it by God.

After going back inside, I looked up this bird, and identified it as a female Downy Woodpecker.

She is definitely NOT a birdbrain!