Downy woodpeckers love suet because it is especially energizing during our colder winter months. Other birds, such as house sparrows also love it and they tend to hog suet feeders and aggressively go after other birds who also want to feed on suet.
The downy woodpecker is one of those birds that is usually subjected to the ire of the house sparrow when it tries to take a turn.
My observations suggest that downies, at least my resident “lady,” only get to eat suet early in the morning until the house sparrows wake up!!
Once the latter come into the yard, it is usually game over for my one female downy who comes daily to the yard. But lately the game has changed. Madam Downy seems to have come into her own.
The fight is on!
Now she flies in and sends the male house sparrow packing. The diminutive, black and white downy woodpecker puffs herself up, including the feathers on her head, making herself look as threatening as possible.
She then works her way toward the house sparrow ever so slowly with bill slightly open as if telling the interloper to buzz off!
The house sparrow is gone in a flash.
As one would expect, a house sparrow keeps trying to chase the downy woodpecker off the suet so it can take her place on the feeder.
Madam Downy, however, has a different idea. She takes threatening looks periodically, while feeding on the suet that is filled with insects and meal worms, toward the bushes where the house sparrows are taking cover, daring anyone of them to just try and take over her position.
If a sparrow makes it to the feeder, she continues to chase it off with her most menacing looking posture.
Madam Downy has been successful in her quest to eat her favorite meals and snacks for a week now.
She makes sure she gets her fill before she flies off to search nearby tree trunks and branches for her insect supplements.
The fight is over! She won!