Among the various feathered visitors to my bird feeder, two downy woodpeckers have become regular guests, delighting our cat Alphonso Mango with their playful antics. These two woodpeckers are inseparable, always arriving together at the bird feeder several times daily. Their synchronised flights are comical, soaring through the air before landing on the sturdy branches of the Sassafras tree. From there, the real show begins.
Like acrobats, the two woodpeckers chase each other up and down the tree's branches, darting around with incredible agility. It is as if they are engaged in a secret game. Their antics add a touch of amusement to the backyard.
But the most amusing part of their routine is how they approach the bird feeder. The first downy woodpecker has a peculiar preference. Upon reaching a branch close to the feeder, it pauses momentarily, contemplating its next move. Then, comically, it would begin a slow and deliberate "walk" up the tree, pecking at the bark with measured steps. He tries to maintain his dignity while clambering up the trunk.
On the other hand, the second woodpecker is the embodiment of efficiency. Determined, it would land on a branch and immediately fly towards the feeder, swooping in like an expert aviator. There is no time for dilly-dallying or theatrical antics. This bird is all business.
This contrast in behaviour never failed to bring a smile to my face. I find myself drawn to these two feathered characters, each with their own unique quirks and charms. Their presence adds something special to the simple act of birdwatching.
Downy woodpeckers play a role in controlling the invasive European corn borer. Although they look similar to the hairy woodpecker, they are not closely related, and their resemblance is due to convergent evolution. One way to distinguish them from hairy woodpeckers is by their black-spotted white tail feathers and shorter bills.