Sometimes, you don’t have to do much to get kids excited about birdwatching (or adults for that matter). The “common” birds are a great way to show off how awesome birds are to anyone. Caring for these commoners helps build a lasting desire to protect the creatures you care about, creating future and lasting conservationists.
As luck would have it, the Callaway Nature Preserve was blessed with a pair of Downy Woodpeckers attempting to nest in our birch tree. Over the last two weeks we have observed at least two young woodpeckers (a male and female) peering out of their hole in eager anticipation for their parents to arrive with food. The variety of insects brought to them has been astounding – from green caterpillars to spiders to things with more legs than we’d like to count.
Sammie and Dakota, two of the young Birdfreaks, have come home from school all last week, eager to run out to the “Downy Chairs” we set up for them to watch the action. They have noted that the Downies will “clean up their house” and that the young Downies get loud and excited when food arrives.
Downy Woodpeckers might be common, but they are one of the most common species of backyard birds that may be encountered. They are easily observed and relatively fearless (our Doberman would sprint by on his invisible race track while a feeding would be taking place). Even if you aren’t a birder yet, it doesn’t take long to be impressed with the actions of these wonderful woodpeckers.
With many eyes watching the past few days, it was Dakota who alone witnessed the young male Downy fledge. The woodpecker made his way high up in one of our maples before sallying to the giant elm where he could be heard but not seen well. The family has since quieted down and become nearly impossible to see, but from our viewpoint, they were successful and provided us a great learning tool for the kids (and us too!).