Monday, November 12, 2007

Woodpecker mystery

Bruce Yolton saw a woodpecker excavating a hole on November 3 and took the photograph above. You may be wondering why the bird is excavating in November. Surely it's a little early to be making a hole for nesting. The answer to the mystery: the woodpecker is making a roost hole where it will sleep in the winter.

According to Lawrence Kilham, author of Woodpeckers of Eastern North America, having a winter roost hole "may make the difference between survival and death during periods of extreme weather." I had to look up that quote in my own book Red-tails in Love, which includes a story about roost hole monitoring in the Ramble. In the paperback, that section starts in the middle of p. 154.