Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Backyard Birds - Woodpeckers

Even birds know that sometimes, you have to share. . .


Pileated Woodpecker, top; Downy Woodpecker, lower, by Green Eye, DGH



If you have old trees, or even dead trees, woodpeckers will come. Variables affecting this are: the predators in your yard, or if there is food nearby, and tree coverage. When these big Pileated woodpeckers show up, the other birds back off.  Those beaks are sharp and strong, and can kill other birds. The red colour on their heads warns the other birds to stay back.



Pileated Woodpecker looking for food, by DG Hudson


The acrobatic Pileated Woodpecker, in the photo below, wants to hang on his suet and eat it while swinging. It shows the strong markings on the side of the head and the pointed beak.  The preferred natural food is tree grubs, with suet and seed adding the fat they need.





Pileated Woodpecker, Suet feeder, by DG Hudson 


All photos in this post were taken from the side deck, looking down on the feeders. Lurking there, we took these photos as silently as we could so as not to disturb the birds. No special lens was used. These types of photos have to be taken quick and without fuss (minimal noise, beeps, opening doors, etc). The birds don't wait. The Pileated Woodpecker, about 16-19 inches in length beak to tail, is striking with swathes of red and black on the head. The smaller varieties have the same 'don't mess with me' attitude as the larger birds. Or did you notice in the first photo that the smaller bird is on the larger feeder? 

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The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, considered extinct at one time, was sighted in 2006 in Florida, and became a subject of disagreement as to its authenticity. We saw the newspaper article reporting the sighting while visiting. They prefer hardwood forests, and may have changed habitats. That is, if they really have come back. We can only hope. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivory-billed_Woodpecker  The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

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And now for something fun. . .


Pileated Woodpecker, Color Injection by DG Hudson


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Do you like birds? Any interesting birds you can remember from your travels, your backyard, a movie, or a story? Please share in the comments.

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Happy Valentine's to those who celebrate it!

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17 comments:

  1. Gosh, D.G., these images are amazing. I haven't been following your blog quite long enough to realize what a gifted photographer you are. Thank you so much for sharing these. I had no idea a woodpecker was capable of killing an animal but, thinking about it, it's gotta be a tough piece of machinery to drill a hole through a tree.

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    1. Thanks for the nice words, Suze. I hope you'll come back to check the other photos when you have time.

      These are tough birds, but striking to see and hear.

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  2. I do like birds. I used to work as a naturalist at a state park famous for its birds, and most especially its pair of nesting bald eagles. We had about three hundred different species at the park, counting migratory birds that passed through.

    I keep a suet feeder as well as seeds for my winter birds. Mostly chickadees, juncos, sparrows, and finches. I get a flock of bluejays, too, that come by about once a day for peanuts. :) Don't think we have the pileated woodpeckers where I live. If we do, they are rare. Only see the little downy woodpeckers from time to time.

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    1. We have bald eagles, and many hawks in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver, LG. At our feeders in the past we saw the same birds: also Red-Shafted Flickers, another type of woodpecker.

      That job you had with the state park would have been interesting. Do you have predatory birds and their handlers in your fantasy stories?

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  3. I assume, being just up the road a bit from Washington, that you also have Northern Flickers? They were very destructive on my house out there. One pecked a hole in the side and made a nest. You could hear the babies every day. My ex kept threatening to board up the whole so that they'd die and I forced him to leave them be. So instead he'd sit home and try to shoot the adults with a pellet gun, which is illegal.

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    1. Birds in the house aren't good. We had birds, then squirrels and did have to board up the area where they got in. Had to call in a squirrel expert. Really ticked off the black squirrel in our yard. We had a staring contest when he/she discovered his access had been blocked off.

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  4. So beautiful! I have to travel miles from home to see anything besides sparrows and ground squirrels *sigh*.

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    1. Glad you could see these colourful birds, if that's the case, Jenn.

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  5. Very interesting post! I hadn't realized that the red color on their heads was for warning other birds to stay away.

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    1. Hubs is the birder expert. I like to photograph them. He keeps track of the ones we see in the official bird book.

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  6. Certain insects like to use the color red as a deterrent as well. Anyway, these pictures are great. We get woodpeckers in our area too, but I've never gotten close enough to take pictures. I may need to change or add a different bird feeder.

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    1. Isn't mother Nature nice to warn us of the bad guys?

      Woodpeckers like suet (look for suet with bugs mixed in - they like that one) I don't know how a person who studies bugs would feel about that. Just sayin'. I can be sneaky quiet if I have to.

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    2. Elise, I meant Insects. You have fantastic insect photos, too!

      I only have a few insect shots, some from our backyard, and a few from the everglades.

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  7. Great photos. Photographing birds is tough. I'm never sneaky enough.

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    1. In our former backyard, we had a bird-friendly green spot. Maybe they trusted the place more, my cat was an indoor pet. Black capped chickadees used to scoot through our deck on their way to the blue spruce, just to show they could.

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  8. I like birds, but never really took up bird watching. My favorites are kingfishers and hummingbirds.

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    1. Hummingbirds are another species we like too, Misha.

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