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Bird Feeding Tips

Tips on attracting and feeding backyard birds.

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The Delightful Downy – Part 2 of 2

Posted by on in Attracting and feeding wild birds
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If you’ve ever heard woodpeckers drum on your home, you’ll be pleased to know that although it may sound like your house is being chiseled to bits, drumming usually leaves few marks, chipped wood or damage i.e. some incidents can be spectacular, most are never noticed!


Downies remain paired with the same mate for years or even for life. They renew their bond each spring. Many of the duties involved with raising a family are shared between the male and female birds. Although the female selects the nesting site, both male and female help excavate the cavity. Excavation typically takes about two weeks. The female lays four to five pure white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for about 12 days until the young hatch. Hatchlings are then fed insects every few minutes.


Approximately three weeks after they hatch, the young downies are ready to leave the nest. The young male does not yet have the red patch on the back of its head but it may be distinguished from the female by an area of reddish pink over its entire crown. Juvenile plumage is worn until the September molt; afterwards, the first-year birds look just like the adults. Young downies remain with their parents for several weeks.

How can you attract downies to your outdoor area? The easiest way is to offer suet, a favorite food of downies and many other woodpeckers too. By consistently providing suet, black-oil sunflower or peanuts, you’re likely to enjoy this tiny woodpecker all year long.

I am delighted to join the Birdzilla team through this blog, sharing ideas and topics related to feeding and attracting wild birds in your backyard. Bird feeding is my life-long passion,  instilled by bird-feeding parents who raised me on an 80-acre farm in central Michigan.  After college, my wife and I served as U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer high-school teachers in Africa and then as staff members over an eight-year period.
Those wonderful times led to 30-years of bird-feeding leadership as founder of the Wild Bird Centers, franchising and supporting wild bird specialty stores across the country. I helped found the Bird Education Network and was a key financial supporter of PROJECT WILDBIRD, I currently serve as Executive Director of the National Bird-Feeding Society. Several years ago, I was asked to join “The Birder’s Team”, a working group of birding leaders selected by the National Wildlife Refuge System to recommend ways to better serve birders. millions of whom visit our extraordinary network of more than 500 Refuges. These “conservation jewels” actively protect critical habitat and conserve bird populations of all kinds. Most recently, I served as a judge to select the winning artist for the NWRS’ 2015 Duck Stamp Contest.

I now look forward to helping our readers experience the best our wonderful hobby offers. As I often say “The closer we live to each other, the closer we want to be to Nature.”

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