Red-bellied Woodpecker Excavating Nest Hole

Just a head's up that I'm keeping an eye on the weather for Tuesday's Birds and Beers (the Woodcock Tailgate Party).  Right now, all Twin Cities tv stations are predicting various amounts of snow and or rain.  Weather Underground is reporting an 80% chance of rain for our woodcock party.  I think we may have to cancel.  If there is any form or precipitation, consider Birds and Beers canceled and we'll go with our make up date of April 26.  I'll wait until tomorrow to call an official cancellation...regardless of weather, Mr. Neil and I will be hiving 3 packages of bees.

Speaking of Mr. Neil, now that the snow has finally melted and created swampy pools of muck in his woods, I went down in there and to some exploring.  They had a nasty ice storm over the winter and several trees are down blocking trails.  While I was inspecting some downed trees, I kept hearing a red-bellied woodpecker.  The bird sounded like he was right over my head, but I just couldn't see him.  Then I backed up and scanned the holes in the trees and bingo--I got the above photo.  Sneaky, sneaky the male red-bellied woodpecker was hidden inside.

I looked down and saw the ground was covered in wood chips from the woodpecker's excavations.  I found red-bellies nesting last summer right in Mr. Neil's backyard, this is down the hill a bit.  This tree is very old and dead compared to the tree that was used last year.  Hopefully it will last the summer.  This blog post is partially for Mr. Neil's groundskeeper, just so he's aware of the tree and won't take it down.

I went on my way through the woods and when I walked back, I saw the male red-bellied still excavating a cavity. He froze when he saw me.  I was hoping to get a shot of him spraying out wood chips, but when it became clear that he was going to stay frozen as long as my scope was on him, I went on my way.  A mouth full of wood chips can't be comfortable.  And someone staring at you while you excavate your super secret nest spot might make you feel uneasy about your nest choice and look for another.

So, Hans, this is the tree.  It's near the lemonade stand--wink wink, nudge nudge.