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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Wondrous Woodpeckers

For some reason (that I have yet to figure out) I associate the beginning of autumn with woodpeckers. So, since the season is almost upon us, I thought I'd share some photos of woodpeckers I took in our yard over the last year or two.

First, the Colaptes auratus, better known as
Northern Flicker, lovers of ants and suet:
Such a big stretch - I hope it's worth it!
Female Northern Flicker at suet feeder, the easier way

On watch at twilight

Who's that hiding behind the branches? See the red shaft on the tail?
That's why he's known as the "red-shafted" Northern Flicker. 

Male (note the red moustache) Northern Flicker on suet feeder

A Northern Flicker and Steller's Jay vie for the suet. The flicker won.
(His beak is longer and much sharper!)

From the Piocides genus

A pair of Piocides villosus aka Hairy Woodpeckers. Note the the male's red cap.

Mama feeds suet to baby. So sweet to watch.
In contrast to the Hairys above, 
this Downy woodpecker (Piocides pubescens) has a short stubby bill
perfect for poking into tiny crevices. 

Sharing is always good.

The Dryocopus pileatus - in a class all its own
(on Gabriola, at any rate)

The Pileated woodpecker is the sixth largest woodpecker in the world. When they
start hammering on trees looking for carpenter ants, the chips fly!
Sometimes a little suet is nice too.  

Hanging onto the homemade suet ball

The striking silhouette of a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers from a distance. 
The lovely Sphyrapicus ruber!

This beautiful Red-breasted sapsucker is unmistakable whether you can see it or just hear it.
If the woodpecker is in sight, the all-red head is unmistakeable.
But even if you can't see it (but can hear it) its unique irregular drumming pattern is a giveaway.  
Thanks for tuning in. ... That all (for now), folks! 


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Welcome Back Western Bluebirds!

Western bluebird
Photo by Dave Menke courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife

My August Just for the Birds column in The Flying Shingle is about Western bluebirds and the efforts of The Nature Conservancy of Canada and The Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team to reestablish them on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Read all about it here:

If you should see this rare beauty, please record the location and, if possible, note the colours on its leg band. Then email GOERT at or call 250-383-3427 to report the sighting.