Monday, February 23, 2015

Downy Woodpecker at Turlock Lake Campground

Okay, I was half-joking when I said in the last post that I would try to capture photos of a Downy Woodpecker for the next post, but that turned out to be what happened. We made a short excursion out to Turlock Lake in the afternoon to see what was out and about, and down in the campground area there was a Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) in the tree above us.
The Downy Woodpecker is among the smallest of the Woodpecker family, and size is one of the ways one can distinguish it from the similar Hairy Woodpecker. The bill is shorter, too. It looks a bit like a Nuttall's Woodpecker, but the Downy has a white patch on the back, as today's did.
As is my usual pattern, I got a very fuzzy picture on the first attempt (two days ago), barely enough to identify it, and on the second try (today's attempt), I got sharper pictures, but not great ones (then again, do I ever?). Next time they will be marvelous!
The Downy Woodpecker is common and ranges widely across North America from Alaska to the Mexican border and the Eastern Seaboard. They are mainly missing in the deserts of the southwest. Which means I should have noticed them a long time ago!
Speaking of getting sharper, nicer pictures on the third sighting, check out the nice sharp sunlit photo of a Northern Flicker that was hanging out in the next tree over from the Downy Woodpecker. It was in interesting day, and a few more birds from this afternoon will make an appearance on the blog.

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