I spent some time in my backyard yesterday trying to get pictures of the Brown-headed Nuthatches and the Downy Woodpeckers visiting the feeders. The nuthatches never did show up while I was watching, but I was able to get a few shots of a female Downy at the suet feeder.
While I was watching this bird, out of the corner of my eye I caught the flash of white on the wing of a bird flying into my neighbor's pine tree. I trained my binoculars on the spot where I had seen the movement and got a terrific surprise!
I had complained here just a couple of weeks ago about the disappearance from my neighborhood of the Red-headed Woodpecker. They used to be fairly common here, but for several years now they have been absent from my yard and the immediate vicinity of my yard. Imagine my astonishment and delight then when I looked through my binoculars yesterday and saw this:
The numbers of woodpeckers of all kinds do seem to be increasing in my area and, thinking about it, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Woodpeckers love dead trees and there have been a lot of those around over the last couple of years because of the drought. Even though most of the dead trees in my neighborhood have been removed by now, there are still lots of trees, pines particularly, with dead limb snags. These are a magnet for woodpeckers, and also nuthatches, chickadees, titmice and a lot of other birds that like to explore under bark for insects. So, the drought has actually improved the habitat for such birds and it shouldn't surprise us to see their numbers increasing.
And now I have a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker in my yard - well, my next-door neighbor's yard actually - and he seems to be finding lots to eat here. I can dare to hope that he'll make this his territory and that these wonderful birds are on their way to a comeback in my yard.