Woody builds a home

On a morning walk around Cave Creek ranch near Portal, Arizona, we happened upon a pair of Arizona Woodpeckers working on their nest hole.

Female Arizona Woodpecker

We saw the Female Arizona Woodpecker dart into the hole, and she poked her head out a few moments later.

Arizona Woodpeckers are unusual in that they are brown and white, instead of black and white, with the male having a small patch of red on the back of its head.  They are really inhabitants of the Mexican oak and pine forests, but make it into just the southeastern tip of Arizona in the Chiricahua mountains.

Male Arizona Woodpecker

The male of the pair seems to be the more energetic nest constructor, entering the hole for long periods and emerging with mouthfuls of sawdust.  Isn’t is amazing how they get that hole so round, like it was drilled with a 1-inch drill bit?

Male Arizona Woodpecker

Just exactly the right sized hole for this bird. They are about the size of Hairy Woodpeckers.  Those stiffened and pointed tail feathers are what help keep them propped up vertically on trees.

Although they are obviously good at drilling holes, these Woodpeckers forage primarily by flaking off the bark from oak, walnut, or sycamore trees to probe for insects or larvae under the outer layers of the bark.

Male Arizona Woodpecker

Spitting out all those wood chips must be difficult.

Male Arizona Woodpecker

A beautiful and rare (in the U.S.) bird.

5 thoughts on “Woody builds a home

    • Thanks, Jet. It is a real treat to watch how birds construct their often elaborate nests. We watched hummingbirds weave spider silk and moss threads into tiny little cups — fascinating!

  1. Hello Sue,
    Although great for all ages your article and photos will be passed along to my grandchildren.
    Great work,

    Joe Wallner

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