Tag Archives: Ozark birds

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.”

Country Fall Sounds

Killing frost came by followed by a couple of light ones. Summer is over. Fall sounds surround those outside in the Ozarks.

Over the summer wind blowing through the leaves has a rustling sound. In the fall the leaves are dry and brittle so they clack and bang. Some of them drift off to the ground.

Cicada buzzing dominates the summer days sounding like a thousand tiny chainsaws at work. That is gone replaced by the chirping of katydids, chips of crickets and sawing of grasshoppers.

crickets iconic fall sounds
Only male crickets chirp. The difference? Males have two spines off the abdomen like this one. Females have a third longer one in the middle used to lay eggs down in the dirt. And the number of chirps a minute do reflect the air temperature.

Great Vees of geese fly high overhead on their ways south. The honking precedes and follows them helping anyone watching locate the flocks.

Warblers twitter in the trees. They spend the days raiding the giant ragweed stems of seeds. Evenings find the birds gathering in great noisy flocks getting ready to move further south overnight.

Crows have some kind of debate going on. One caws to gather a group together. They caw loudly as they leave the gathering. Then another one calls a meeting.

Woodpeckers are busy staking out their territories. Pileated woodpeckers have the loudest calls and sound off as they fly in their swooping patterns from tree to tree. Once the birds land, the drumming begins as the they drill out nesting holes.

Fall sounds add many new nuances to the country music buffet as many summer sounds retire for the year. Some sounds ignore the seasons.

morning doves
Morning doves are ground birds like chickens and have flat feet for walking. When spooked, doves take off with a whirring sound. These are waiting for the food to arrive at the bird feeder. Sunflower seeds are fine. Milo is good to. Millet is the best. This seems to be the opinion of the doves.

Morning doves whirr up from the ground when anyone approaches. The only difference is in number as the young birds have made the population swell. Some will migrate. Others will remain camped on the bird feeder.

Sadly the sounds of ATV’s, motorized mules and vehicles remain too. The fall sounds stop or get drowned out as these roar by. Hunting seasons are starting up so more are driving by.

Distant sounds of chainsaws drift in. Cold weather reminds so many of a need for firewood. Cutting earlier is better as the wood has time to dry.

Long stretches between man made sounds still occur. Then the fall sounds fill the air reminding all that winter will be here soon.

Contemplate seasons in the Ozarks through photographs and haikus in “My Ozark Home.