Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Woodpecker Comparison Study

I have lots of woodpeckers in the backyard this winter. Downys are the most numerous -- last weekend I saw 6 poking around the branches in the oak tree outside the dining room window. I've been taking pictures of all my woodpecker friends who visit the suet log hanging on my deck. I hope you enjoy these photos showing the difference in size and color of my backyard woodpeckers.

Here's a female Downy. She's compacted her body to the smallest size because she's hiding from a Cooper's Hawk visiting the backyard. I can always tell when a hawk is here because the woodpecker doesn't even attempt to eat any suet -- motionless as a statue!

Here's another Downy woodpecker at full size.

They love this suet log and seem to prefer the holes in the center of the log because those are always cleaned out first.

Here's a male Hairy Woodpecker on the suet log. You can definitely see how much larger they are than the Downys -- especially when you can use an object like this suet log as a basis for comparison. I was lucky to catch this woodpecker in a blink!

Here's the female Hairy Woodpecker.

Going up a little more in size, here's the Red-Bellied Woodpecker. This one's a male. We've had a solitary female visiting the backyard feeders all winter long and just within the last couple weeks this male has also now started showing up. I hope they will pair up and stick around for a while.

And lastly, here's my queen woodpecker -- the Pileated! I've been waiting weeks for her to visit the backyard again and she finally showed up last week and wouldn't you know it, the suet log was empty! At least I managed to get this photo of her before she flew back to the other suet feeder. Isn't it cool how she's almost as big as this suet log? What an impressive bird! I don't think I'll ever get over the amazement of seeing her in my backyard.

This has nothing to do with woodpeckers, but I thought you might enjoy seeing this little flock of cardinals who come to feed at twilight. It won't be many more weeks until the cardinals start establishing their territories. Then these cardinals won't be tolerating each other's presence under the bird feeder and I'll have to wait for next winter to see this many together again.


Marianne, aka Ranger Anna said...

Wow! Pileated at the Feeder! A dream come true. We've had them in our yard, but no where near our feeders. We're also hoping for a Red headed for our yard list. We have all of yours plus flickers.

Great post!

Gaelyn said...

Nice to see your comparisons of the woodpeckers. Those are all found in AZ but I rarely see them, and never long enough for a photo. I've seen crowds of cardinals at my feeders.

Anonymous said...

Gee, I have a suet log and didn't know it. Gotta send husband up to the attic to find the Advent log!

Anonymous said...

Nice woodpecker comparisons, love them all, each is different. MOM

Meggie said...

I saw my first pileated last week and was quite excited. I, too, have lots of downys and hairys. The pileated I saw was feeding in a yard not far from my house. It was awesome!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Marianne,
I would love to have a Red-Headed Woodpecker, but they've become really scarce around here.

Thanks Gaelyn. I would love to have crowds of cardinals -- on a really good evening I might see 14 at one time.

Good luck MaryLee. I use a block of suet, microwave it for a few seconds to soften it up, and then use a butter knife to fill the log with suet. It works great and as you can see, the woodpeckers love it.

Thanks Mom, I love them all too!

They are awesome Meggie. I hope that pileated eventually finds its way to your yard too!