Posts Tagged ‘Hairy Woodpecker’


My birdfeeder attracts an assortment of the usual suspects, Chickadees, American Tree Sparrows, Goldfinches, Mourning Doves and others. However, by far the dominant visitors in both numbers and attitude are the Blue Jays. Dozens of them take over the feeder each morning when I put out fresh seed, keeping the smaller birds at bay. In an effort to lure the Blue Jays to a separate location and allow the smaller birds better access to my main feeder, I set up a second feeder behind the house this fall.


I stock the second feeder with striped sunflower seed, instead of the smaller oiled sunflower, and add peanuts and a bit of cat kibble. The feeder is definitely a hit, and while it hasn’t lured the Blue Jays totally away from the main feeder, it has helped. I can watch the new feeder from my kitchen window, and while the blue marauders aren’t good neighbours to their feathered peers, it is a delight to watch these beauties come and go. Such handsome birds!

Few smaller birds visit this feeder, at least while the Blue Jays are around, but I did notice Downy and Hairy woodpeckers stopping by. I attached a suet feeder for the woodpeckers to the post underneath the feeder, where it would be kept dry and the woodpeckers would have less competition from the Blue Jays. As you can see in the first photo, this wasn’t entirely successful, but the woodpeckers do approve of it, and a steady stream of the black and white Hairies and Downies appreciate the suet.


In Birds at Your Feeder, a compilation of research from Project Feeder Watch, authors Dunn and Tessaglia-Hymes note that groups of 15 to 50 jays may spend the winter together within a relatively small area and concentrate on one feeder. Many flock members or their offspring may return to the same wintering area in successive years. Flock turnover is high as about half of adult Blue Jays die each year.

Blue Jays usually carry off several food items from each visit, filling their gullet before taking flight. Blue Jays may travel as far as 2 1/2 miles with their food and in fall, this behaviour makes them important seed distributors. Plants with heavy seeds, such as oaks with their acorns, may depend on Blue Jays as distant dispersal agents. Of the many species of creatures that rely on acorns as a food source, only Blue Jays carry them far from the parent tree and bury them in sites where germination is possible.


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Yesterday’s post followed the Marble Rock trail out to about the halfway point. I had climbed onto a ridge and then down and then back up onto a second ridge and down to wetland level. Now the trail started to climb again. The woods had a bit more of a maple/ hickory/ beech mix and less oak at this point. The trail zigzagged back and forth over a little stream. Fortunately, the stepping stones were secure. It would have been cold getting a soaker!

At one point, I came upon this bridge. It didn’t look too promising and I stepped onto it rather gingerly, but it proved to be sturdy.

A male Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) was searching the trees for a meal. Hairy and Downy woodpeckers are very similar in appearance and can primarily be told apart by their size, with the Hairy being the larger of the two species. A few Black-capped Chickadees flitted about the branches as well.

After a pleasant meander through the woods, the surroundings grew more open as the trail climbed to the top of the third ridge. By now, the sun was beginning to dip and I was glad to be well on the way back to the car.

As I reached the peak, another beautiful panorama lay before me.

Across the valley, an open cliff face provided a good look at the underlying strata of rock. The Frontenac Arch was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere in November of 2002. It covers some 2700 square kilometers in the south eastern portion of Ontario. This area has a unique blend of biodiversity because the moderating effect of the Great Lakes allows some plant and animal species to survive here that are typically found farther south, while at the same time some more-northerly species are drawn south by the rugged granite landscape of the Canadian Shield.

On the south edge of the clearing, the old foundation of an earlier building remained. I was a bit surprised to come across it as it didn’t seem like agricultural land. Later, I read that during World War I, quartz that was used for early radios was produced in the area, so perhaps the foundation was from a building associated with that industry.

The trail led east from the foundation and sloped gently down until it reached a large pond, the water that could be seen from the very first lookout at the beginning of the hike.

To avoid wet areas, the trail jogged to the right and entered a plantation of pine trees.

The floor of the pine forest was cushioned with a thick mat of pine needles. As the trail returned to the mixed deciduous forest, I noticed this spot where a small creature, probably a chipmunk had a tunnel. Outside the hole was a pile of the neatly-cracked shells of hickory nuts.

I knew I was nearly back at the parking lot when I noticed a sure sign of civilization: a garbage dump.

Pheeew. As the sign at the entrance to the trail promised, it was a strenuous hike. I was happy to get back to my car and sit down, especially as the light was quickly slipping away as the afternoon faded into evening. It was a beautiful spot, however. I really enjoyed the rough terrain offered by the granite outcroppings of the Frontenac Arch. While the woodlands are no doubt lovely in the spring, hiking in the fall had the advantage of opening up the great views, which are probably partly obscured when the trees are dressed in their summer leaves. Another time, I would be sure to take a thermos of coffee for a halfway-point break!

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