Woodpecker- 1 : Sparrowhawk – 0

The great-spotted woodpecker resting before the arrival of the sparrowhawk

The great-spotted woodpecker resting before the arrival of the sparrowhawk

 

It slips round the tree out of sight

It slips round the tree out of sight

I was doing some computer work at home today and looking out the office window.  A male great-spotted woodpecker was resting near to the peanut feeder on a larch tree in the wood. At least I think it was resting. It was clinging to the bark in the way that woodpeckers do, not perching on a branch like other birds. Someone can maybe correct me if I’m wrong. I watched it for a few minutes then suddenly a young sparrowhawk in brown plumage appeared at low level through the trees. The woodpecker immediately slipped sideways round the trees always keeping out of sight of the sparrowhawk.

With its exceptional eyesight I’m sure the sparrowhawk would have seen the woodpecker, but maybe a bird pressed hard against the trunk of a tree might not be the best target to attack compared to a bird that takes off and is caught in flight. I really don’t know and I’d be happy for any other interpretation. In any event the sparrowhawk continued on through the wood but the woodpecker remained motionless round the side of the tree for at least another ten minutes before eventually flying off.

So could this be the strategy employed by woodpeckers to avoid capture by sparrowhawks? It certainly worked on this occasion. If it works for woodpeckers I wonder if it would also work for a tree creeper or a nuthatch?

I photographed the woodpecker through the office window in the ‘before’ and ‘after’ position, hence the fuzziness of the photos.

Another lucky bird in the garden is the blue tit that roosts in the garage almost every night. I don’t know exactly where it goes in the garage but this is its second year in this safe and cosy roosting place. I’m conscious now not to shut the up and over garage door before dark, and of course always to open either this door or the smaller door into the adjoining shed reasonably soon after daylight. The bird does not panic when I come in this smaller door and flies over my head from the garage, lands briefly on one of the bunches of garlic or inions hanging from the rafters, before making its exit. With a temperature of -5 last night it was certainly in the right spot.

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