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Wet Woodpecker

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Everybody's wet today. It's in the 40's and pouring, typical mid-Ohio Valley winter weather. I realize that I have gotten a bit too deeply involved in Garrett the red-headed woodpecker's life when my first thought on waking and hearing the rain is, "Oh, rats. Garrett's going to get himself soaked today."

And he does. A wild bird should have the sense to come in out of the rain, especially a woodpecker who has a nice snug little birch house he's made right in our backyard.

I have more reason to be concerned about rain than the average duck, because their first rainstorm can be a bad scene for the orphaned baby birds I care for. I've had some (a phoebe and a ruby-throated hummingbird come to mind) get absolutely soaked to the skin, which renders them unable to fly.  The hummingbird engaged in bathing behavior as the rain came down, and kept bathing and bathing until he was saturated. Not good. Big duh. (He didn't make the same mistake again; he migrated and came back the next spring). Not sure how to teach a baby bird to come in out of the rain...I think they have to learn by experience.

For whatever reason, Garrett sits for hours with rain beating down on his gorgeous plumage, staring morosely into his roost hole.

It drives me nuts. I keep putting food out for him as it gets soaked (Zick Dough doesn't do well in rain, and he won't use the plexi dome feeder that the rest of the birds use).

So everyone's getting soaked. Mrs. Bluebird is damp, her hair in a wet streak.

I keep putting out Zick Dough for Garrett, and he comes occasionally to get it, his feathers all saturated and streaky.

I put out a roost box in a nearby birch but except for one instance where he hammered at the entrance hole, he ignores it.

Then he goes back to mope by his cavity. When he gets completely soaked he shakes himself, doglike

 then climbs up to the top and holds his wings out like a tiny anhinga.

Another nasty rainy day comes, pouring and in the 40's, on the 26th of January. Garrett sits out all morning and then at about 11 AM-- glory be!! he pops into his cavity and passes the worst of the rain in comfort.

Whew. He's got sense enough to come in out of the rain.

Which he always had. He just chose to use it while I was watching.


Not many of us can carry off the soaked-through-look as well as Garrett. I'm glad he finally went inside though.

If "bedraggled" needed an illustration in the dictionary, Garrett and Ma Bluebird would be it!

All I can say is--relax, Mom.

Your little Garrett is growing up.

Is it possible that the reason he's sitting outside the nest hole in all weather is that he is advertising? "All prospective female redheaded woodpeckers in the area, here I am, a healthy male (do you actually know his sex) and I have this fabulous nest hole."

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