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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Fate




Red-bellied Woodpeckers have a sweet tooth. In additon to sunflower and suet, they are fond of sugary fruit. So we cut up some oranges, stuffed them in a suet holder and this male Red-bellied Woodpecker took to it like a duck to water. The only trouble was, he wouldn’t share. If the female came near, he would lunge at her. She would hang back, letting him feed, then approach when he was gone. His greediness may have been his undoing.

Several days ago we could hear him outside. As was usual, he was first to come to the oranges. All of a sudden we heard a bird's high-pitched squawk and looked out in time to see the tail of a Cooper’s Hawk disappearing over the trees with a bird in its talons. Was it the male Red-bellied? We could not see for sure. A pang of angst at the thought of his loss. Some bird had met its fate. To the Cooper’s it was just lunch.

The next day we watched the feeders and only saw the female feeding alone, the male nowhere in sight. Today we saw two males near the feeder having an agressive interaction. We watched through our binoculars. Neither was the former male. We could tell because he had had a particularly red face. These were less colorful. Could these be two newcomers vieing for the territory and mate of the missing male? Time will tell.

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