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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Feb 9, 2010

Downy wood pecker

Sometimes you see things when you least expect it

It is times like these that I like best. This is  also precisely the reason I carry my camera equipment almost everywhere, all the time,  as this  does  happen to me quite often.  Even in winter.  Some of my best pictures of Ravens were taken in the winter, for example.  I also, incidentally, dislike kicking myself for missed opportunities of  any kind, but especially where images of birds and wildlife are concerned.

Downy Woodpecker male

I was returning home from a  visit to a friends house, early in the morning when I saw this little guy flit beneath the low hanging branches of a tree and then from a thin branch to the trunk.  I'm really not sure why he caught my attention, but I ducked beneath the trees myself to get the pictures.   Unlike some birds this one was not too shy, so I guess that he is used to being around people.  It was late in the fall, the beginning of October and the weather was getting colder.  I was hoping to get some pictures of birds, but was not really expecting to see any.  At least not any of the unusual, or migrating type of birds which is what I focus on spotting at  this time of year. And I  didn't, as you will  see.

I managed to get a few decent shots, meaning that they are good enough in my view to allow me to recognize and identify the bird once I have the images on my computer.  Imagine my surprise when I see the beautiful red patch on the top of it's head in combination with its plain black and white plumage.  The red patch in this case indicating it was male and making it easier to identify.  It looked similar to a larger woodpecker I had once seen, but why was it so small?
Woodpecker almost hidden

It took me a while to find out what I had on camera, mostly because I didn't immediately look for the info. When I did, it was accidental as I was researching another bird. A flicker and another woodpecker as it happens.  Part of the appeal of birding is doing the research and learning something new, at least for me. However, I usually save the research for those times when there are less bird watching opportunities available.

As  I suspected, it turns out this bird is a woodpecker but unrelated to the larger Hairy Woodpecker, which is similar in appearance.  What was completely unexpected  was the  fact that the Downy Woodpecker visits, and sometimes even resides in residential areas quite comfortably, although  I had never seen it before.   Therefore this experience translated into a real discovery for me, who is still relatively new to birdwatching, and it was therefore very welcome.  This bird, as it turns out, is usually a permanent resident, in that they don't migrate unless they live far to the north, and then  they do not migrate far, so I'm likely to see it again, which is also good  in that this provides a future opportunity for observation.
If  you  wish to learn more  about the Downy Woodpecker follow  these links:



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