Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Downy Woodpecker

I decided to start this blog because 1) I'm jealous of my sister-in-law who has a great blog (click here); and 2) I wanted a venue for my photos other than my flickr page. I think by showing them in this blog I'll be able to tell more about them than on flickr which is more of a list than a blog.

So here goes.

This photo is of a downy woodpecker taken on my "tail-prop" suet feeder. As you can see from the photo, the woodpecker props his tail on the wood using it like a third leg. When you see woodpeckers in a tree, they are often propped against the trunk in just this manner. Tail-prop feeders are very attractive to woodpeckers because they can feed in a more natural position. Of course, other birds can use this feeder, but most other birds perch on the suet cage and lean over to get the food.

I posted this photo on flickr with the heading "Downy Woodpecker" and immediately got people telling me that it is a hairy woodpecker. No way! Hairies look a lot like downies, but they are much larger and their bills are about as long as their heads are wide. This particular downy doesn't show many little feathers around his bill. (It is a "he" since you can see part of the red spot on the back of his head.) Perhaps the feathers are stuck to his face with suet, maybe he's a bit bald. But the lack of "down" on his face makes his bill look longer than normal thus the controvery. I've promised to measure the distance between the suet baskets to show that this guy is is closer to 6.5 inches rather than the 9.5 that is typical of a hairy

I may not be an expert, but I know my downies! I was pleased that a number of people who posted allowed as how I got the last vote since I was the one who saw the bird. But I didn't realize that I could start an internet controversy merely by posting a photo of a little bird! The joys of modern technology!


EngLee said...

Your sister-in-law really has a great blog. Welcome to the blogging world! :)

Nancy said...

Wow Phoebe. You started a blog...You have more funny stories than anybody I know, including David.
I will link you on my blog so I can come by and see your funny stories and your wonderful photos...

Now the woodpecker...We get those too, but I am not sure they are Downy...Looks the same though. Pecking on the eucalyptus....