A Woodpeckers Tale from Chick to Fledged

A few weeks ago whilst walking the dogs I spotted a Great Spotted Woodpecker in a tree. Normally they fly away or hide around the trunk but this one stayed and then another flew to a nearby branch. Both had beaks full of insects so I backed off realising there must be a nest close by. It didn’t take them long to fly to a tree and one after another disappear into a hole in the trunk which was greeted by excited cheeping.

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I began going to the woods on a daily basis and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the parents constantly arriving with food and disappearing with the chicks deposits.

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The parents had a routine as the male would perch outside the hole and feed an unseen chick while the female seemed to ignore the dominant chick at the front and would enter the nest hole to feed the other chicks.   After about a week the parents would only feed through the hole, which suggested the chicks were now too big for them to get into the nest and often a small head could be seen bashing away at the food they brought. Finally I began to see the chick peering out at the world and taking food from the parents.

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Last weekend it became clear that there seemed to only be one chick left and it was about to fledge. The parents were bringing food but were hanging back from the nest hole and they seemed to be trying to lure the chick out. The male arrived with what looked like a dead chick from another birds nest and would let the youngster grab hold before trying to pull it out into the world. The chick wasn’t playing though remaining firmly in the nest.

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Sadly I missed him leave! I returned the next day and all was quiet, no sign of the parents or the chick. Hopefully he left the nest safely and is being helped on his way by the parents. I’ll miss their antics but it was a pleasure to watch. Who knows they may try for a second brood and I can watch it all again.

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