Tag: woodpeckerphotography

Who’s that looking out the hole–it’s a northern flicker

So on one of my morning walks at Boomer Lake, I decided to check out the creek side of the lake (this is the area that is heavily wooded, and to get around you’re either walking through the woods or you’re out in a boat or kayak).

Walking to the ‘boat loading’ site, I decided to check on the one dead cottonwood tree, that I had spotted the pileated woodpecker on in the past.

Instead of seeing the pileated woodpecker or even a songbird or two–I managed to get several pictures of a northern flicker sticking its head out of one of the holes.

Northern flicker sticking its head out of a hole in a dead tree
Who’s there………

So now the question is–did the northern flicker take over the old roost of the pileated woodpecker, or was it just ‘checking’ out the neighborhood?

Northern flicker looking out of a hole in a dead cottonwood

I realize that I may (or may not) spot a woodpecker on the tree during all of my walks, but it will be a spot that I try to check as often as possible throughout the summer to see if there it becomes a northern flicker nest, or if the pileated woodpecker is back looking for carpenter ants or termites.

Northern Flicker

Did you know that northern flickers tend to hunt for their prey on the ground–they go after ants for the most part, though they will also go after some flying insects as well (such as flies, butterflies, and moths).

Getting these pictures of the northern flicker poking its head out of a (possible) nesting site meets a partial overall woodpecker photography goal (getting pictures of them near their nesting sites), though the main two northern flicker photography goals are still getting one of them hunting ants, and then catching a butterfly or moth in the air.

Have you seen any woodpeckers this year? What’s your favorite woodpecker?

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A Sunny Day Surprise: The Redheaded Woodpecker

So I’ve realized that the photography challenge is going to be sporadic this year–I’m aiming for new photographs at least 90% of the time, and the other 10% will be older pictures, but on specific days (such as #waybackwednesdays, #throwbackthursday, or #flashbackfriday). It will be a sporadic challenge, as I am also trying to vary the photograph subjects as much as possible. Since May is also National Photography Month, I was aiming for daily photograph postings–but will be going with at least weekly entries.

The winner for the challenge today was a redheaded woodpecker that I spotted up at Boomer Lake at the end of April. While I know that they’re in the area–I don’t go specifically looking for them, as I tend to avoid walking through heavily wooded areas (I’ve developed an allergic reaction to ticks, so I try to avoid the areas where I know that I could come across them).

Redheaded woodpecker on a light post

The redheaded woodpecker flew over my head and landed on the light post. Since it was a beautifully sunny morning (unlike the last time I got a photography of one), I managed to get a picture of it in all it’s redheaded glory. This woodpecker is named ‘redheaded’ because it has a totally red head–unlike the red-bellied woodpecker, which only has a pale red spot on it’s belly, but a red stripe down the back of its head.

Redheaded woodpecker

I actually had my longer telephoto lens with me that day (but no tripod), but by the time I got the lens on the camera, the woodpecker had flown off. I’ll be keeping my eye on the various light posts, which seem to be landing spots for various birds (possibly to eat their snack or meal), and then the tops of dead trees (since that is where I spotted the first one a couple of years ago).

I’m also keeping my eye out for the hairy woodpeckers as well–they’re similar in shape, size, and coloring to the downy woodpecker. Therefore I may already have a picture or two–just in the wrong bird folder. I think that if one chore this summer–make sure that all pictures are correctly labeled for the various woodpecker species.

What is your favorite woodpecker?

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, pulls double duty: day 3 of photography challenge and has it’s own page

So this is a double post–an entry into the photography challenge (slightly late–but day 3), and an announcement of an additional woodpecker page.

Yellow-bellied sapsucker at the small suet feeder

Last month I managed to get a couple pictures of this woodpecker at the small suet feeder, and I think I noticed it several times before (but never had my camera on me). As I mentioned on the page–I spent a month thinking it was the hairy woodpecker, because it was larger than a downy woodpecker, but alas it turns out to be the yellow-bellied sapsucker instead.

While it is a winter resident within Oklahoma, I’m pretty sure that this is the first time I’ve seen one up close and not on a tree.

As their name implies–they prefer to eat the sugar rich sap of certain trees, but in some cases they can be found eating at suet feeders. It looks like they prefer the more ‘lardy’ suet to the ones that are caked in seeds.

Since it wasn’t showing a bright red neck, I’m pretty certain that this was a female yellow-bellied sapsucker that was getting a meal before possibly starting her trek north to her breeding grounds.

While I know that I won’t be seeing these birds again until winter–I’m hoping that maybe I will also be able to spot a male at the suet feeder as well. We do have a maple tree in the front yard, so I will be keeping an eye out to see if any decide to start ‘tapping’ it for its sap.

With the addition of the yellow-bellied sapsucker, I’ve gotten pictures of 6 of the 23 species that can be spotted within the US. One goal is going to be trying to get a picture of the hairy woodpecker (for real), I know that it is larger than the downy, and that their bill is longer than the downy’s bill at some point this year.

I have noticed that the red-bellied woodpecker and the downy woodpecker are back (though in truth–they never left) at the feeders, it will be interesting to see what other woodpeckers come through this year as well.

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The last trio of woodpecker pages are now live

So the last three woodpecker pages are now up and live under the woodpecker family page (Picidae). The last three pages added were for the Northern Flicker, the red-headed woodpecker, and the pileated woodpecker.

Pileated woodpecker in the woods at Boomer Lake

So there are twenty-two woodpecker species that can be spotted in North America (Canada, US, Mexico) and to date I’ve spotted five of them, or not quite a quarter of them (twenty-two percent).

These birds can be spotted within forests, at the edge of forests, in city parks, in cacti, and at your backyard suet feeder (depending on the species).

Northern Flicker on the ground at Boomer Lake

I’ve realized that all five that I’ve spotted have either been around the wooded areas of city parks or at the backyard suet feeder.

A goal for 2021 is to see if I can spot a different species of woodpecker (possibly teh yellow-bellied sapsucker), or get better at distinguishing between the downy and hairy woodpeckers, or perhaps getting a better photograph of the red-headed woodpecker.

Red-headed woodpecker at the top of a dead tree

Getting a picture of the yellow-bellied sapsucker and the hairy woodpeckers would round out the woodpeckers that are common around Oklahoma. Getting a picture of any of the other woodpeckers common to North America will require at least one trip somewhere that has the type of forests (or cacti) that the woodpeckers prefer.

So the next set of bird pages to be publish on the blog will revolve around the hawks, eagles, kites, and osprey.

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Running behind on the photography challenge: Day 7-the downy woodpecker

Well, I’m a day late with the photography challenge. So the winner for yesterday’s installment of the photography challenge is the Downy woodpecker. I think this one comes in at number three in terms of which bird has the most pictures taken of it this summer (number one is the ruby-throated hummingbird, and number two is the red-bellied woodpecker).

This is the smallest woodpecker in North America, and can be found throughout the continent, where it’s range stretches from Alaska down through Canada and into the lower 48 states. There are only portions of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas where they may be considered uncommon birds.

Male downy woodpecker at the small suet feeder

The diet of downy woodpeckers consists of mostly insects that it forages for along the branches and trunk of trees (including beetle larvae, ants, and caterpillars), along with berries, acorns, grains, and being seen at suet feeders in people’s backyards.

Since they’re small in size (basically the size of a nuthatch), it isn’t uncommon to

see them also feeding in a mix group of birds. Unlike the red-bellied woodpecker that really doesn’t like other birds being on the suet feeder at the same time—the downy woodpecker doesn’t really care.

Female downy woodpecker at the small suet feeder

In terms of their coloring and markings, they are rocking the black-and-white checkered feather/back look. The males also have a small red patch on the back of their heads. When looking at them at either feeders or in the wild, they can be confused with the hairy woodpecker (who is larger then the downy)—but they aren’t that closely related (the two woodpeckers split off from a common ancestor about six million years ago). These two species look similar, but that is just a matter of convergent evolution (which is the independent evolution of similar features in species of different periods or epochs in time).

Photography goal: Get a picture of a hairy woodpecker, and if possible a picture of both at a feeder (that way I can work on trying to distinguish between them).

Do you have a favorite woodpecker species??

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