Date: 9/15/20 5:22 pm From: 'Jim Nelson' via Maryland & DC Birding <mdbirding...> Subject: [MDBirding] Surprising New Yard Bird, Bethesda, Mont. Co.
I've been keeping track of birds seen in or from my small suburban yard in Bethesda, Montgomery County, just outside DC, since June 12, 1981. As bird populations decline, the climate changes, and our neighborhood loses old trees and bushes as small houses get replaced by larger ones that take up nearly their entire lot, it is harder and harder to add a new species. In early August I added a flyover Barn Swallow, not really unexpected, which was the first new species since October of 2018.
Today, as I sat on the deck after eating lunch, I saw a woodpecker land on one of my hanging feeders. As I raised my binoculars, I expected a Red-bellied Woodpecker, but I was amazed to see an immature Red-headed Woodpecker. We are a long way from places where Red-headed Woodpecker would be expected.
The bird was around all afternoon since being found initially around 1:10 pm. It kept visiting the hanging feeders to take black oil sunflower seeds. It appeared to be eating some of the seeds and caching others in the bark of maple and elm trees in the yard. It engaged in one bout of vocalizing between visits to feeders. It became increasingly aggressive toward other birds at the feeders driving off others, including a Blue Jay which is physically larger. It was chasing Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers whenever they approached the feeders or the areas in the maple and elm where the Red-headed appeared to be caching seeds, lending further support to the idea that it is protecting both its source of food (the feeders) and the caches it is creating. It's just beginning to show some red feathers scattered on the head with one small, bright red patch near the base of the mandible on the left cheek.
This is species number 128 for our yard list.
Jim NelsonBethesda, MD