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 .