I was flummoxed during a recent trip to Dallas as my company had changed our hotel and I had no idea where I was. Public transport from that part of town went nowhere near anywhere I wanted to be, so I slept in and took a mid-morning stroll around the neighbourhood.
A pair of nesting Downy Woodpeckers were the highlight of the walk and I wanted to share them with you.
The hotel was on Midway Road in Dallas, with no eBird hotspots easily reachable on foot or by public transport, so I wandered south towards the 635. The first woodpecker was the male, seen as it flew into a tree and landed right in front of the hole. I was poorly positioned for a photograph, so I just watched for a while and the female followed close behind the him. Both of them were carrying food and appeared to be feeding young. I moved on, but passed the same spot on the return journey and managed to find a gap in the leaves to get a shot.
Most surprising to my eye was how small the hole was in relation to the size of the birds.
The female returned first this time and entered the nest with a beakful of what looked like termites (?). She stopped for less than 30 seconds before flying off and being quickly replaced by the male.
He waited outside the nest for a few moments. Perhaps he was nervous of my presence, so I moved back to allow him room to work. From my new position it was not easy to get a good shot, but I watched the birds as they made three journeys out and back (within 30 minutes) bringing more food. As I was a bit further away, the male showed no further reluctance to enter the nest.
I would have liked to have heard the chicks clamouring for food, but perhaps they were very young and the sound of traffic from the road might have drowned them out.