Over the past week, I have been watching a pair of Downy Woodpeckers take care of their young. They are incredibly dedicated. They are up early in the morning flying back and forth to bring food to their babies, who never stop peeping, and they are still at it in the evening. They also have to worry about a squirrel that seems interested in their nest, and they expend a lot of energy protecting their babies from this marauder.
A Different Bird Feeder
Until now I have never had the experience of actually watching parent birds at work, though I had learned from Doug Tallamy, scientist and author of Bringing Nature Home, just how important insects, particularly caterpillars, are for parent birds. He tells us that 96% of bird species feed their young solely insects, mostly comprised of caterpillars because they are easy to eat and contain the right amount of fat and protein. In his amazing, must-read article, The Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening Tallamy tells us that a pair of chickadees feed their babies 6,000-9,000 caterpillars for a single clutch. The Downy Woodpeckers most likely would need to find even more insects to feed their babies.