The Sentry has moved on even though the Starlings were dispatched with haste. I miss their raucous cries and flashy nature. I was heavily invested in the RHW as you know, witnessing The Sentry fashioning her nest hole with great care for months, find a mate, and begin setting up house.
What makes a RHW work for months on a nest cavity, defend it from squirrels and bluejays and all manner of beasties only to be chased away by birds half their size? It wasn't in the cards for me to witness baby red-headed woodpeckers this year, sadly.
The nest cavity has been vacant for weeks now. The RHW's do visit from time to time. They never go inside, but perch close by and watch. Nevertheless, they obviously had to nest elsewhere as Mrs. RHW was getting fat.
I've been so sad about it all. However, recently we witnessed a new development. A pair of birds began not only investigating the nest cavity, but filling it will all manner of flotsam and jetsam. I wasn't familiar with the bird, but it is beautiful. Bright yellow breast with cinnamon tail and feathering. Slightly smaller than a jay, larger than a cardinal, sort of robin-sized. High in the tree canopy. My first thought was a flycatcher, and I nailed it. Please welcome the Great Crested Flycatcher. The only flycatcher that nests in cavities, but is native and lovely. Check 'em out on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Great_Crested_Flycatcher.html
I'm no longer hopeful about watching nests, but perhaps these guys will stick around. They are more elusive than the RHW's, but this morning having coffee on the deck I saw Mrs. GCF fly inside the hole and she stayed there. I'm hoping they'll be here for awhile.