Downey Woodpecker Hole

With acres of woods on our property, we burn wood for winter heat. Mostly we cut newly dead or blown over trees. One of them had a woodpecker hole in it.

There are several kinds of woodpeckers living around the property. We regularly see Downey and Red Bellied woodpeckers at the suet cake on the bird feeder. An occasional Hairy woodpecker drops by.

woodpecker hole entrance
Spotting a small hole like this is really hard when it is thirty feet up in a tree. The hole is neatly chiseled out and big enough for a Downey woodpecker to disappear into quickly. The woodpecker hole piece has a new bottom and is again up in a tree in case anyone wants to move in.

Pileated woodpeckers stay back on the hills. We mostly hear them calling, but see them flying across the pastures now and then.

Red Headed woodpeckers nested here several years ago. At least one is still in the area. They seem to like going up and down the creek banks.

Woodpeckers drill holes into trees and build their nests down in the holes. I spotted one pileated woodpecker hole many years ago when one of them swooped over and disappeared into it.

woodpecker hole tunnel
Light shines into the entrance hole. Any woodpecker sitting in the bottom of the hole would be in the dark. The walls of the tunnel are rough to the touch, but smoothly chiseled out. Creating the hole was a lot of work for a small bird like a Downey woodpecker.

This year we’ve been clearing out dead trees along the creek. They fall over, break up and tear out the banks and bridge when high water carries them down to the river.

This old sycamore was still standing and solid. The wood burns hot and fast making it good for starting a fire early in the morning to take the chill out of the house.

When cutting it up, we found a round hole about an inch and a half across up near the top. At that point the trunk was only about six inches in diameter.

bottom of woodpecker hole
The base of the woodpecker hole may be wider than the tunnel down to it, but it isn’t very big. A Downey woodpecker would have room in this 4 inches wide spot.

The hole led into an eighteen inch vertical tunnel down into the trunk. It was a bit less than three inches across and widened a little at the base. The size indicates this woodpecker hole was for a Downey woodpecker. None of the others would have room to turn around.

A lot of work went into chipping out this hole. It hadn’t been used for a nest which we are glad of. Perhaps it wasn’t up to standards and was abandoned in favor of some other hole in another tree.

Finding a woodpecker hole is a reminder that not all dead trees should be cut down. Some of them may have residents inside.

Read about other Ozark birds in “Exploring the Ozark Hills.”