Tuesday, June 18, 2013

W IS FOR...

W  IS  FOR  WOODPECKER


How convenient!   We were visited by a Woodpecker for the first time this week.  Do you know how many kinds of Woodpeckers there are in the States?  Let's just say a lot!  But my bird book helps the situation not by just the pictures, but description, size, habits, and what area of the nation it is to be found.

So first I looked to see what woodpeckers are to be found in Southern California at this time of the year.  That certainly narrowed the selection.  Then I looked at the size -- about 8".  That's not very large for a woodpecker.  Sapsuckers, a kind of woodpecker, are especially quite large.  My Woodpecker is small.  Looking at the illustrations of the smaller ones I could narrow it down to one of two -- the Ladderback or the Nuttall's.

I once saw a Ladderback when we lived up at the other house (about two miles away) and I remembered that it is the only fruit eating woodpecker.  It was in a neighbor's persimmon tree.  But the only fruit trees around here are are mostly orange, lemon or grapefruit, not really the kind for a woodpecker.  So I read the description for the Nuttall's, which is usually found in the western half of California and is not so prevalent as other woodpeckers: --

"The Nuttall's... is usually found in chaparral mixed with scrub oak and in wooded canyons, and streamside trees. Forages on tree trunks, generally probing crevices and chipping away loose bark rather than drilling."

Woah!  Somebody must have been looking over my shoulder, I think -- or else the woodpecker had read the bird book!  I had just been watching him do exactly that. I had not heard any drilling as is usually heard with a typical woodpecker.  But I watched him poking and pecking away at the bark of the tree.  In fact. it did make a few knocks on bottom edge of a piece of bark and then skipped quickly to the top of the loose bark to grab the insects as they scurried away.

The interesting thing about this bird is that I have been hearing a kind of whispering rattle, almost musical, throughout the park for months and could never trace it to any bird.  So Saturday afternoon as I sat out on the deck overlooking the creek mulling over what  W word I would use for ABC Wednesday, I heard the call again.  I was sure it was some kind of warbler.  It kept getting closer but I just couldn't see it.  So I decided to wait.  I waited until after 7:00 p.m. and finally I saw him.  He is brilliantly camouflaged and it wasn't until he was on the large pine tree right behind our bird feeders that I saw him.  He has a kind of red-bronzy patch at the back of his head, not nearly as bright red as the flicker's.

Incidentally my trusty bird book is National Geographic's Field Guide to the Birds of North America.  It is excellent!

So I solved the mystery of the musical rattle and what word I would use for ABC Wednesday.

Now I have to find a word for X.  Aaagh!

 If you would like to see more entries for the letter W, please visit ABC Wednesday, HERE 
This project is long running and very popular.  It was started by Mrs. Nesbitt and is now, as we draw to the close of our 11th round, managed by Roger Owen Green .

16 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

Love the woodpecker.
I'm sure you'll do an eXcellent job next week - remember, we can be a little laX...

ROG, ABCW

Ann said...

Woodpeckers are pretty interesting birds. My Mom had a Pileated Woodpecker at her country house. They are huge.
Ann

Hildred said...

Seldom see a woodpecker here in town but used to love the red headed ones that woke me in the early morning, a-pecking away at the fence posts.

Hildred said...

Seldom see a woodpecker here in town but used to love the red headed ones that woke me in the early morning, a-pecking away at the fence posts.

Robyn Greenhouse said...

Glad the woodpecker makes a musical sound so his visits are enjoyable!

Leovi said...

Yes, a nice WOODPECKER!

photowannabe said...

I love the woodpecker and how obliging he was to make his appearance.
You have some wonderful wildlife at your new place.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you for this informative post, Chris!
You asked if the wombat is a scavenger and has sharp teeth. No the wombat eats plants and the teeth have no roots: They keep growing during its lifetime. They seem to be very peaceful and playful animals.
I wish you a wonderful day!
Wil, ABCW Team.

mrsnesbitt said...

Love the random weeks on ABC Wednesday - definitely going back to it next round - more spontaneous and fun!

kaybee said...

Would love to see you do a drawing of the woodpecker, Chris!

We have lots of woodpeckers here right now. When we take a walk around the neighbourhood in the evening, we can hear their hammering, echoing through the trees. We have both the pileated ( large), and the downy (small). We also have a fox, who, we have been told, lives in the local ravine with his family. We thought, at first, that he was a coyote...they look so very similar.

LittleGreenGuy said...

Oh WOW Hoe beautifully done!!!!!

Rare Lesser Spotted said...

Great piece, I haven't seen my woodpecker in the garden for about four years so assume he is no longer about. He was, however so influential on me, I named my blog name after him. They are beautiful creatures

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

I l0ve to see these woodpeckers in Singapore.

claude said...

Over here I see often in the grass Woody. He is big and green.
Have a nice week-end, Chris !

richies said...

I've never seen a Nuttal's Woodpecker but they look a lot like the Hairy Woodpecker we see occasionally here.
An Arkies Musings

snafu said...

As ever, an interesting and educational post. We do not get woodpeckers near us, no big trees. I used to live behind a small copse and they were often there.