Apr 17 2010
When I was a kid, Saturday afternoon TV often showed swashbuckling movies starring Errol Flynn as Robin Hood or Captain Blood.
“En garde!” he’d shout and draw his sword.
That’s what these hairy woodpeckers are doing.
“Mine!” they’re saying to each other. “Go away!”
According to Birds of North America, hairy woodpeckers use their bills when establishing their nesting territories. (I’ve paraphrased it here.) “In close encounters, they use a bill-waving display that includes jerky body movements and waving their raised bills as if dueling. The birds may stop for a minute or more, remaining motionless, each with its body pressed against the tree trunk and bill pointed forward and slightly raised as if crouched for attack or defense.”
Marcy Cunkelman found these two fighting in her yard this month. I don’t know how the contest ended but I know the fight was worth it. Marcy’s yard is a rich wonderland for birds.
(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)