This morning my attention was caught by some inept avian fluttering in our field. Two birds, medium size. A flash of red on the head, and a large beak: green woodpeckers.  The lack of vivid green ruled out adult males – this was a mother / fledgling education lesson in flying and self-sufficiency. By the time I had grabbed a camera from the house, they had moved further away. I had to creep up to the field fence so as not to scare them, and fire off some distance shots from a slightly awkward position (avoiding barbed wire was one issue). These are quite poor images, as photographs go. But the story is a good and rather sweet one…

Mum!Green Woodpecker, Dorset 1

Uh huh….?Green Woodpecker, Dorset 2

I’m hungryGreen Woodpecker, Dorset 3

Hurry up… hungryyyyyyy

Green Woodpecker, Dorset 5

Ok dear, worm coming up. You’ll have to learn to do this for yourself now

Green Woodpecker, Dorset 4

Still hungryyyyyyGreen Woodpecker, Dorset 6

Well here’s a nice bug. Last one. Then you are on your own. Forever.Green Woodpecker, Dorset 7

Open wide…Green Woodpecker, Dorset 8

Thanks mum. I’ll be fine now. I think.Green Woodpecker, Dorset 9

Synchronised independence and self-reliance…
Green Woodpecker, Dorset 10



The babies have flown! On Friday morning, the sound from the tree was a cacophony, with both parents appearing to urge their kids to leave home. By the time Mrs Harbour got back from work in the evening, they were gone. The nest was empty, and there was silence. So we never said goodbye, but we can say “good luck”.


During the week, the babies have appeared with increasing bravery at the nest-hole West Indian Woodpecker a

Feeding no longer involved a parent diving into the box with bugs, but feeding at the entranceWest Indian Woodpecker 2

The heads began to stick out further…West Indian Woodpecker 3

…and the parents’ job got easierWest Indian Woodpecker 4

At 6.47 a.m. this morning, the first fledgling took flight, first to the roof, then to a tree. He’ll hang around for a couple of days, being fed less and less until he can stand on his own two feet. Fly on his own two wings, even. Meanwhile his parents are getting on with their next stage of family planning. They are spending increasing time in and around the second nest box, and – there’s not getting around it – copulating in public. The results will be their third family of the season.

So all is well in woodpecker land. I’ll finish the story with a photo taken by Tom Sheley, a wildlife photographer from Ohio, and his magnificent image taken a couple of days ago. Imagine being a chick expecting a tasty bug and getting one this size rammed down your throat…

West Indian Woodpecker TS

LATER Here’s a very short mobile phone video of a young squawker peering out at the wide world. I have better camera ones in another format, but for some reason WordPress is only accepting .MOV files at the moment…