A red-bellied woodpecker nestling peers from its nest, looking out of an entrance to a tree cavity

A Nestling Discovers Raindrops

Prepare to say awwwwww.

Not the doctor-looking-at-your-tonsils aww, but the one you bring out when you see something impossibly cute. Or the aww that means something has tickled your sense of wonder. I was struck by a little of both on a day of nonstop gloom, cold, and drizzle. It was a June day masquerading as early April.

But as you’ll see, what I saw in the trees made me grateful for the day’s miserable weather.

I’d been watching a young red-bellied woodpecker peer from the mouth of its nest. For a few days, the nestling barely poked its bill outside the tree cavity. As it became braver, the little guy reached farther to explore its surroundings. My April-in-June day was just after the nestling began leaning well out of the nest to watch and listen for parents and the food they would bring.

The day’s rain—the first in a couple of weeks—fell hard and steady for hours. I saw no little woodpecker bill poke out of the tree. Late that afternoon the rain slowed, and finally! A little head popped out! I turned on the camera to get a closer look through the zoom lens.

What I saw makes me smile every time I replay the scene. The video quality is a little dodgy, the result of low-light and operator haste to just get the scene on film. But I think you’ll agree that what we’re seeing here is an inquisitive youngster tasting rain for the first time.

Ready with your awwwwwww?

If you’d like to see more of this little red-bellied kid, here’s a view from the next day. When you see what he’s being fed, your sense of wonder might be tickled just a tiny bit more.

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