Sunday 27 November 2011

Making a Woodpecker Perch

The woodpecker perch in my garden is now a big hit, Just watching today for an hour we had Carolina Wren, Hairy and Red Bellied woodpeckers all feeding on it, We also had 2 flickers in a close by tree which was nice to see, The perch is very dried out and tired so its time to make a new one, Problem is that my paddle bit has gone missing so a trip to the store is needed, i will run through how i go about making one, Firstly i need a branch around 2-3'' in diameter and around 4 feet long, The width is good for most woodpeckers, I dont want a big thick branch as it will make the tint hairy woodpeckers look out of place, The 4 feet length is a good height as sometimes other birds will land on top and you can get an eye level shot without the 'looking up' at the bird shot, I find one of the best places to look for a perch is either near a lake or a dark damp forest where there is a good chance of finding a good looking mossy branch, Unfortunately here in NC its normally very hot and dry and if you are lucky enough to find a nice mossy perch it will be dry and dead in a few days, Once you have your perch you need to drill 3 or 4 holes around 20mm or 3/4'' down one side in a line about 6-8'' apart, Look at the perch first to find the nicest looking side as this will be the front, Drill 90 degrees to the front, You can drill both sides if you want, Have an idea of the time of day you will shoot and the suns direction so that the perch does not cause heavy shadows when you shoot, Once you have drilled the holes you need to place the perch infront of the hide/blind, I either bang a wooden peg into the ground and then screw and tie warp the perch to it or if you want to be abit more mobile use a Xmas tree stand which work really well, Once the perch is in place get a fat block and dig a piece of fat out with a small spoon, Hold the spoon up to the hole and with your thumb push the fat into the hole, Pack the hole out with fat and push it in tight so that the fat is concave and no fat will be poking out and getting into the shot, Clean around the holes with your thumb and you are good to go, If there is some food in the shot or you can see part of the hole you can clone that section out in processing
Here is my old perch, 4 feet high and 2'' wide, Hold up by tie wraps and screwed at the base to a wooden peg

20mm or 3/4'' Holes down 1 side
Use fat from a fat block available at supermarkets and pet stores
Using a small spoon, Scoop some fat out and place the spoon at the hole and push the fat into the hole, Get as much fat in as possible by compacting the fat with your thumb
The hole will look like this when its finished, Clean any fat that's outside the hole with the spoon or your thumb
Check the perch every morning for signs of use, Once the fat is found and they start to eat make sure that its 'topped' up as soon as its empty which will be 2-3 times a day, Consistency is the key, If the birds come and there isnt any food they will soon stop,
To make the perch extra photogenic wrap some ivy or climbing plant around the perch fixing at the back with a staple, Use something that's in keeping and not too big as it will look odd with a small woodpecker, Be careful when wrapping the ivy around as to not get in the way of the holes or when shooting will not get in the way of the birds face



  1. Cheers Dave, now all I need are some woodpeckers - and some trees :)


  2. I will send you some trees if you send me some otters