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.

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A pair of nesting Downy Woodpeckers were the highlight of the walk and I wanted to share them with you.

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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.

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Most surprising to my eye was how small the hole was in relation to the size of the birds.

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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.

DFW 21Apr15 Hairy Woodpecker 05 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.

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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.


Written by Redgannet
Redgannet worked for more than 35 years as a flight attendant for an international airline. He came to birding late in his career but, considering the distractions, doesn't regret the missed opportunities. He was paid to visit six continents and took full advantage of the chance to bird the world. He adopted the nom de blog, Redgannet, to avoid remonstrations from his overbearing employer, but secretly hoped that the air of mystery would make him more attractive to women. Now grounded, he is looking forward to seeing the seasons turn from a fixed point.