It always exciting when I come across a new creature for the first time. On the weekend, while photographing two beautiful owls, I had my first encounter with a Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis). I’m used to seeing Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers frequently around Bragg Creek but the distinctive red patches sent me looking through my bird book to identify this new (to me) species. We are on the northwest edge of their summer range but they are apparently quite conspicuous so I must have missed them previously.
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When one of the owls flew to a fence post near a stand of trees, it disturbed this small woodpecker. The little bird started chittering away and ended up flying out of the tree above the owl and landing on a post in front of me. He settled down and took a minute to scratch the feathers on his nape before heading across the meadow. It didn’t bother the owl in the least but I really enjoyed the short visit.
One of our resident woodpeckers was drumming away for a good part of the afternoon a few days ago. Several Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers have wintered near our home this year.
The long bill of the Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) was put to good use by this fellow. He used it to his advantage pecking away at the bark. I’m not sure if it was idle practice or if, despite the cool temperatures, there were insects to be had.
With warmer temperatures coming back this weekend, I hope to see them out pecking again.
We have two types of woodpeckers that visit the trees in our backyard. The Downy is the smaller of the two but they are very similar looking otherwise. The Hairy woodpecker is a beautiful bird and I watched one of them as it pecked at tree trunks for insects under the bark. They like to hammer one spot for several seconds and then move around the tree or off to another trunk.
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