Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpeckers

Hairy woodpeckers are "heavy" excavators and create a lot of sawdust. Their nostrils are feathered to minimize aspiration of the dust. The eyes close just before the bill hits the wood. 
The bird excavates wood to create a nest or to find insects, which are an important source of food. The insects are lapped up with a very long tongue with a barbed and sticky tip. The tongue is stored in an exceptionally long hyoid bone that wraps around the skull and eye. The tongue ejects and recoils much like the ruler does from a carpenters measuring tape. 
The parents take 17 to 24 days to excavate a nest in a mature live tree. In Southern Alberta nesting is likely in  May. At about 17 days of age, the young are strong enough to come to the nest entrance for food, and by 28 to 30 days of age, they are ready to leave the nest. However, once out of the next, they still continue to be fed by adults for about two weeks. In the June 28th photo above, a male Hairy feeds a youngster at my peanut  feeder.  

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