July 09, 2011

Woodpecker Taxi

Sapsucker hatching held by rehabilitator Nancy Kelly.
The sapsucker hatchlings were still in the tree trunk, but the tree was no more.

When the telephone rings at 5 p.m., it seems to be always either a fire call or a wildlife-transport call.

This call involved some hatchling woodpeckers—probably red-naped sapsuckers or possibly yellow-bellied sapsuckers—I am not enough of a birder to tell at that age.

The story starts with someone from the Denver suburb of Littleton who owns a cabin in the Wet Mountain Valley.  They came down for the weekend yesterday, bringing some aspen logs they had cut (somewhere else?) for firewood. Or did they cut aspen there at their cabin? I'm not sure.

The nest was in a cavity in one chunk of wood. OK, they did not know about the nest when they cut that dead aspen down. But then apparently their reaction was, "Oh well. Just let 'em die."

Someone else—friend or neighbor—would not let that happen. The length of aspen trunk with the peeping hatchlings inside ended up at the office of a veterinarian in Silver Cliff.

The vet is not a bird vet. She tried contacting the local district wildlife manager. He was away. She talked to the Forest Service staffer at the FS work center next door. He suggested that she call the Sanders, the rehabbers we often deliver to.

"We don't do birds," they said, and referred her to a rehabber in Pueblo who does. Whereupon our telephone rang.

M. and I rushed through supper and then headed for Silver Cliff. All down the canyon and across the prairie to Pueblo, the Jeep was full of a cheeping sound like someone sharpening a saw with a very small file.

UPDATE, February 11, 2012: It turned out that the hatchlings' yellow color fooled us all. They grew up to be hairy woodpeckers instead, and here are more photos from rehabilitator Nancy Kelly's site.


Galen Geer said...

And you got them to Pueblo safely--right? Good. Did someone give the people who cut down the tree and were willing to let the birds die grief?

Chas S. Clifton said...

Yes, we got them to Pueblo, but the story about cutting down the tree came to us from the vet, so we have no idea who did it.

SeEtta Moss said...

Hi Chas,

This is almost assuredly a Red-naped Sapsucker nestling (sure is cute) as Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are fairly rare visitors to Colorado in winter. Thanks for transporting them to Nancy at Second Chance. She does good work and has devoted much of her life (including most of her house which is the rehab facility) to taking care of injured and homeless birds.
(BTW-did you see the video I got last week of the bear mom with her triplet cubs on Canon City Riverwalk? It is on my blog, just scroll down the page a little.)

Chas S. Clifton said...

Great videos you go there, SeEtta. Those bears would sure be a shock to the usual Riverwalk dog-walkers.