October 17th, 2010

breeden

Red-bellied Dogfight

Just saw a pair of male red-bellied woodpeckers bickering. It was really pretty impressive–they were chasing each other from tree trunk to tree trunk, and then there was a brief and dramatic sequence where they attacked in mid-air, belly to belly, beaks clashing, wings flapping frantically.

Then they fell out of the air, because they’re woodpeckers, not hummingbirds, and lack the ability to hover. They’d crash into the leaf litter, flop around, flap to a tree trunk, scold each other, scrabble up the tree trunk, and then start all over again. This went on until Kevin decided it was time to make brunch, and for all I know may be going on still.

I assume they’re having some kind of territorial dispute. It’d be REALLY late in the year to fight over mates…maybe they’re establishing winter territories or something. They both had the red heads, but one could have been a newly fledged juvenile, I guess, trying to carve out a chunk of space from the resident. Pretty wacky.

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.