Nesting News [catching up]
Ardith Bondi, a regular Central Park birder and a generous photographer, sent me the above sequence of photos on May 22. The bird is a Red-bellied Woodpecker, who has picked a piece of prime real estate with a natural rain-protector, for his nesting hole.
Can't tell you yet the outcome of this bird's nesting attempt. Red-bellied Woodpeckers are all too frequently victimized by the park's agressive starlings who wait on a nearby branch while the handsome bird excavates his cavity. As soon as the hole is finished [somehow the starling knows the precise moment] Zoom! Full frontal attack. The starling ousts the far-less-agressive woodpecker and takes over the cavity.
Evolution did not intend it to be this way. Starlings are a non-native species that were foolishly introduced into the North American eco-system by a misguided bird-lover [!] at the turn of the 20th century. Why? The man, Eugene Schieffelin, wanted all the birds mentioned in the plays of Shakespeare to be present near his New York City residence. He brought in 30 pairs, and now we have more than 200 million starlings taking over native birds' niches from coast to coast.
Having watched too many red-bellied woodpecker evictions over the years -- the evicted pair generally sit on a branch above their former hole and emit pathetic cries for hours at a time-- all I can say to the turn-of-the-century Shakespeare-loving bird-lover: I could strangle you!
I hope the pair Ardith captured on film have a better fate than the majority of Central Park Red-bellied Woodpeckers.