Around noon, I noticed some movement at the birdhouse in my front yard. Looking closer, I saw the unmistakable black and white markings of a Downy Woodpecker clinging to the entrance and peeking inside. This particular woodpecker is a frequent visitor to my yard, but I don’t often see it checking out the birdhouse.
I slowly moved back inside, careful not to startle the bird. I grabbed my camera with telephoto lens that I keep ready for moments like this. I was able to get into position at my front door and start photographing the woodpecker.
Over the next few seconds, I captured some great shots of the Downy Woodpecker tilting its head side to side, poking its beak into the hole, and investigating the birdhouse. It kept peering inside, though it never actually entered the birdhouse during the time I observed it.
Although Downy Woodpeckers don’t typically nest in birdhouses, this one seemed very intrigued. It was likely checking it out as a potential winter roost. Downy Woodpeckers typically excavate their own cavities in deciduous and mixed forests, apple orchards, groves, farms, country homes, and towns. Getting shots of birds engaged in natural behaviors like this is what I love about wildlife photography. Patience is key and you never know what fleeting moments you may capture.
I feel fortunate to have photographed this curious Downy Woodpecker exploring a potential roosting spot right in my own front yard. I can’t wait to see if it ends up using the birdhouse to escape the winter cold in the coming months!
Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer
- Camera: Canon EOS R7
- Lens: Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM
- Location: Lavaca, Arkansas
- Date and Time Taken: September 22, 2023 (11:54 A.M.)
- Program Mode: Manual
- Aperture: f/5.6
- Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec
- ISO: 800 (Auto)
- Exposure Comp: 0
- Focal Length: 500mm