There’s a woodpecker in my kitchen

indoor bird

Bird in hand.

Yesterday I was having a bowl of turkey noodle soup for lunch, looking at photos I took in the morning of two snowy owls, when I heard the thump of a bird hitting the sliding glass door… followed by an even louder thump I recognized as the cat hitting the glass from the other side.

On the deck, a stunned female Downy Woodpecker. (The cat was fine. Physically.) I think a hawk chased the bird into the window. I have seen a Sharp-shinned Hawk swooping around in the backyard for a few days and our door has reflective decals on it.

I carefully picked her up. She had just a few small down feathers floating off her and seemed otherwise whole and possibly okay. This is not the first time I have seen a window-stunned bird: Common Grackle in my hand. I brought her inside briefly to retrieve my camera.

downy woodpecker

She was warm and soft and lovely to hold. Can I keep her??

The cat was twining around my ankles and the dog sticking his nose into the situation. So I put her outside on the seed tray, in sunlight.

seed tray

She remained in that catatonic bird state for about three minutes. Then she revived and hopped over to the suet. All better!


I bet woodpeckers have hard little noggins.

Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Brain Damage? …a woodpecker’s skull is built to absorb shock…

The lives and livelihoods of these birds revolve around slamming their heads into things. Whether it wants to get at an insect hiding in bark, excavate a space to build a nest, claim a bit of territory, or attract a mate, the woodpecker has one simple solution: bang its head against a tree trunk at speeds reaching 13 to 15 miles per hour. In an average day, a woodpecker does this around 12,000 times, and yet they don’t seem to hurt themselves or be the least bit bothered by it. This is because, after millions of years of this type of behavior, they’ve evolved some specialized headgear to prevent injuries to their heads, brains, and eyes.

Tiny but tough.

2 thoughts on “There’s a woodpecker in my kitchen

  1. Pingback: When you wish upon a bird | Amy's Backyard Birds

  2. Pingback: First bird of the year: the sometimes dazed but indefatigably diligent downy | Amy's Backyard Birds

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