Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Woodpeckers Everywhere


Acorn Woodpecker on my porch - Had to share this one!

  
Woodpeckers are all around my neighborhood.  Peter and I took a walk and saw four different species in just a few minutes.  They are so much fun to watch flying and pecking holes in the trees.
The most common one I see is the Acorn Woodpecker.  He’s the one that looks a little like a clown and sounds like he is laughing.  The male has a brilliant red cap starting at the forehead while the females have a black area between the forehead and the cap.  Look for the white neck, throat, and forehead patches as field marks to identify these birds.  They rely on acorns as well as insects for food and they often peck holes in a tree to store acorns for winter.    
Acorn Woodpecker
  
Williamson Sapsuckers are gorgeous woodpeckers.  The male has a bright yellow belly, a bright red patch under the chin and is black and white.  I just stopped and watched him drill sap wells in the tree.  The female is not as dramatic with her brown head and barred black and white feathers.  In fact, they were first thought to be different species.

The Hairy Woodpecker has a thorn-like beak and is a small powerful bird often seen foraging in the main branches of trees.  They have 2 stripes on their head and a large white patch runs down their backs.  The oldest known Hairy Woodpecker lived 15 years and 11 months.
Hairy Woodpecker
  
The last woodpecker we saw on our hour walk was a Northern Flicker.  This bird is overall grayish brown with black bars, spots and crescents.  A white rump patch is really noticeable when they fly.  The undersides of the wings and tail feathers are red here in Arizona but some are yellow in the East.  They spend a lot of time on the ground looking for insects. 
Northern Flicker
  
My new word for this post is zygodactyl   Woodpeckers (and some other birds like parrots) have zygodactyl feet that consist of four toes, the first and the fourth facing backward and the second and third facing forward. This helps them grasp the limbs and trunks of trees. They can walk vertically up a tree trunk-good for activities such as foraging for food or cleaning out a nest.  Woodpeckers fly in an up and down pattern and then glide.  It reminds me of flying in a scallop pattern.
So next time you see a woodpecker, really look at it and find out what kind it is!





Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Woodpeckers Everywhere


Acorn Woodpecker on my porch - Had to share this one!

  
Woodpeckers are all around my neighborhood.  Peter and I took a walk and saw four different species in just a few minutes.  They are so much fun to watch flying and pecking holes in the trees.
The most common one I see is the Acorn Woodpecker.  He’s the one that looks a little like a clown and sounds like he is laughing.  The male has a brilliant red cap starting at the forehead while the females have a black area between the forehead and the cap.  Look for the white neck, throat, and forehead patches as field marks to identify these birds.  They rely on acorns as well as insects for food and they often peck holes in a tree to store acorns for winter.    
Acorn Woodpecker
  
Williamson Sapsuckers are gorgeous woodpeckers.  The male has a bright yellow belly, a bright red patch under the chin and is black and white.  I just stopped and watched him drill sap wells in the tree.  The female is not as dramatic with her brown head and barred black and white feathers.  In fact, they were first thought to be different species.

The Hairy Woodpecker has a thorn-like beak and is a small powerful bird often seen foraging in the main branches of trees.  They have 2 stripes on their head and a large white patch runs down their backs.  The oldest known Hairy Woodpecker lived 15 years and 11 months.
Hairy Woodpecker
  
The last woodpecker we saw on our hour walk was a Northern Flicker.  This bird is overall grayish brown with black bars, spots and crescents.  A white rump patch is really noticeable when they fly.  The undersides of the wings and tail feathers are red here in Arizona but some are yellow in the East.  They spend a lot of time on the ground looking for insects. 
Northern Flicker
  
My new word for this post is zygodactyl   Woodpeckers (and some other birds like parrots) have zygodactyl feet that consist of four toes, the first and the fourth facing backward and the second and third facing forward. This helps them grasp the limbs and trunks of trees. They can walk vertically up a tree trunk-good for activities such as foraging for food or cleaning out a nest.  Woodpeckers fly in an up and down pattern and then glide.  It reminds me of flying in a scallop pattern.
So next time you see a woodpecker, really look at it and find out what kind it is!