Sunday, January 4, 2015

Woodpeckers and Robins and a Hawk, Oh My!

It has been so nice having some time off from work and having the luxury of turning my eyes to the sky for part of an afternoon. On Friday at about 4pm, I was taking the trash out to the covered bins and heard a tapa-tapa-tapa (and no, it wasn’t Lisa Simpson in tap dancing class). It was a fairly large woodpecker. I got really excited because for a split second I thought it might be a Pileated Woodpecker, which I have never seen before. I ran in the house to get my binoculars and ended up grabbing my camera instead. I should have grabbed the bigger zoom lens, but just took what was attached to the camera, which is my 17-85mm (which is still a decent zoom). It wasn’t a Pileated Woodpecker, but it was a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, which is another one that I have never seen in my yard before. I got out my handy Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America to double check. These photos aren’t great, but you get the idea...

He looks kinda chubby. Must be getting lots of fat insects from these trees. Seems like a male since the red covers both his crown and nape. Still not really sure why they are called Red-Bellied Woodpeckers when really it’s the head and/or neck that are red.

Here it is like he turned his whole head upside down to reach some goodies.

I noticed while looking in the trees that there were tons of these really rotund robins perched throughout the branches. Must have been resting. But what the heck are they still doing here in the beginning of January?!

Then I heard a second tapa-tapa-tapa. This time is was either a Downy Woodpecker or a Hairy Woodpecker. They look so similar that I really can’t tell them apart.

I wonder what the robin thinks of his noisy neighbor.

Then I heard a THIRD tapping, this time from a tree that is closer to the front yard. I could see it was either another Downy or Hairy Woodpecker, but couldn’t manage a photo. Wow, three woodpeckers in my yard at the same time on the same day – must have been my lucky day. Still no Pileated one though...sigh...

It must be feeding time for the birds at 4pm because the bird feeders were being attacked by sparrows and the like. Must have been at least 20 birds at the feeders. This is all I managed to capture with my camera, though. They were so fast and really blended in with the surroundings, which made it hard to get a good picture.

I had gone back inside for awhile when I heard a commotion of crows. I was hoping they weren’t harassing the birds at the feeder, so I went to take a look. It turns out they were harassing a hawk in a neighbor’s tree!

The hawk seemed to be trying to ignore them and was focused on looking for some prey. Not sure if he ever found any. He was there for at least a half hour.

I’m going to guess that he is a Red-Tailed Hawk. We get those around here every now and then and his chest markings seem to indicate as much. I wonder if this is the same one that dive-bombed Brian’s head one day when we were out in the back yard. Must have seen his own reflection in Brian’s big, bald head.  :o)

I wonder if this kind of thing goes on every day when I am at work – this bird-party in my backyard. Guess I’ll never know.

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